Your Highness (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Your Highness (2011)

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Danny DISLIKEI feel sorry for my friend Omar. Since I hate going to the movies alone and my girlfriend works odd hours, I'm often left to drag Omar along. He's a good sport, but this is the second comedy I've taken him to after Paul, and the second comedy I've sat through next to him barely managing a polite grimace.

Omar had pretty rotten luck again with Your Highness. Starring Danny McBride, a man who has made his career playing abusive resentful idiots, and James Franco, who is the only person in the cast who looks like he's having a good time, Your Highness tells the coming of age story for young Prince Thaddeus. He's always been a much bigger fan of screwing sheep and smoking pot, but when his upstanding brother's fiance is kidnapped by an evil wizard, it's time for him to step up.

Brotherly conflicts never really capture my fancy, and the film gives the viewer remarkably little to chew on. The jokes pretty much begin and end with "hey, this fantasy character is swearing and/or has a penis", neither of which I find either endearing or particularly funny the first time, let alone the fiftieth time Danny McBride calls someone a cocksucker.

And while "ye olde fucking" jokes all fall pretty flat, pretty consistently, I don't think I can lay all the blame on the script. This film is edited like someone left the humanity in a big pile on the floor somewhere. Scenes come and go as if they're on a treadmill, and none of the characters change from the first reel to the ending joke (which I believe was "Let's go kill that cocksucker.").

Speaking of the characters, what a cast! Besides Franco, we have luminaries like Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel. In my opinion, Portman may be the worst living actress to win a Best Actress Oscar and now she also gets to deliver the line "It's burning in my beaver" with a completely straight face. This isn't quite her Catwoman, but her character, who requires a demented bent, is played so straight that the humor is tone deaf.

"What?! I can't hear you over my neck!"

Meanwhile, Deschanel is an actress who is always at the mercy of her director: watching her performance in Tin Man, Gigantic or The Happening and you'd be baffled as to why this woman has a career. Here she's almost wisely given little screentime, though director David Gordon Green has had more success with her in the past than most others.

Which brings me to a point of sorts. David Gordon Green is one of those directors who started out completely indie with some beautiful, tender films like George Washington and All the Real Girls. I've read a number of reviews that seethe with resentment that he's abandoned low key dramas for big budget comedies, and I suppose I have to disagree on principle more than reality. Green has hit the big time: good for him. He should make whatever he wants to make. My only personal request is to just please make it better than this.

Your Highness has been labeled a 'stoner movie' in a lot of respects (least of all because the director's last film was Pineapple Express), and though the characters do partake in some herbs, the movie becomes much more interested in going for balls to the wall action in the last act than having everyone sit around and smoke some doobies. (Side note: I have never smoked pot, this may explain why I still refer to them as 'doobies'.) Some observations on the rules of the stoner movie subgenre, from what I've seen in various Cheech and Chong films, Dude, Where's My Car?, How High, Puff Puff Pass, Harold and Kumar, Grandma's Boy, The Big Lebowski, etc:

  1. Stoner movies are consistently hetero-normative. Has there been a all-female stoner movie yet? If you watch something from the stoner genre, you'll discover that the men have all the power, the women are sexual objects, and homosexuality is the butt of half the jokes. This also means that, in terms of overall social beliefs, stoner movies are ridiculously conservative in social norms.
  2. The main character(s) can't/won't grow up. This is unsurprising since pot is a drug used to soothe oneself. Nothing is a bigger let down than watching someone achieve success because of hard work and dedication when the effects of the drug are counter intuitive. Success is always achieved by doing nothing.
  3. The villains don't use weed. Even if they're drug dealers, they will use something heavier like coke. Because people who smoke weed are chill, everyone else is uptight.
  4. As long as you've got weed, it's allllll good. This interests me, because stoner movies function to reaffirm its audience's view on marijuana use. Usage is portrayed as glamorous, fun, and completely beneficial. If you made a movie like that about alcohol, there'd be a revolt; I wonder how soon until they start making Adderall movies along the same lines.

Not that I'm condemning any of it, I just find it interesting how internally consistent some aspects of the genre are. I'm also amazed how many of those movies I've seen. Weird.

Well, la dee dah, la dee dah.

Regardless, Your Highness is a unforgivably forgettable bit of trash. Unless you're heavily invested in McBride's schtick or compelled to watch every film of Natalie Portman (you poor, poor bastard), there's no reason to see it outside of being completely trashed and wanting to waste some more of your precious life.

I'm sorry, Omar, I promise I'll find a movie that I'll laugh at someday.

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Posted by Danny

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  1. There has been a stoner movie with a female lead. It starred Anna Faris and was called Smiley Face. It was one of the worst movies I had ever tried to watch, I think I only got about a 45 minutes into the film before I gave up.

  2. Oh yeah! It’s a Greg Araki film, too, so just me watching it should piss off Andrew.

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