I expected Your Highness, David Gordon Green's R-rated sword-and-sorcery farce, to be a medieval stoner comedy, something in the vein of Monty Python-meets-Cheech and Chong. This was not an unreasonable assumption, given a) the film's clearly suggestive title, and b) the fact that its stars (Danny McBride and James Franco) and director previously collaborated on the THC-laced epic Pineapple Express. But I was waaaaaay off. Sure, drug references abound in Your Highness, but they are relatively minor in comparison to the film's exhausting barrage of adolescent sexual humor and often shockingly crude language. Less bongs, more schlongs is Your Highness' overriding ethos.
Taking care not to stray too far from the winning comic persona established in Eastbound & Down and The Foot Fist Way, McBride plays Prince Thadeous, a royal ne'er-do-well who lives in the shadow of his handsome older brother, Prince Fabious (Franco), gallant knight and heir apparent to the throne of the kingdom of Mourne. While Fabious is out defending his father's realm against various supernatural threats and earning acclaim for his illustrious deeds, cowardly and entitled Thadeous parties with loose maidens and smokes hallucinogenic herbs with his twink-ish toadie, Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker). But he finds he can no longer shirk his princely duties when an evil sorcerer named Leezar (Justin Theroux) crashes Fabious' wedding and absconds with the elder prince's fiancée, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel). Urged to aid in his brother's quest to rescue her, Thadeous resists -- that is, until his father threatens to cut him off from the royal teat.
Very soon into his journey, we discover why Thadeous was heretofore so reluctant to join in his brother's adventures: Quests, in the Your Highness universe, entail an awful lot of encounters with homoeroticism - both latent and blatant. Knights dress in tights and codpieces and seem unusually affectionate toward one another. The price for advice from the Great Wize Wizard, a bedridden, seal-like creature wearing what looks to be a jellyfish as a skullcap, is an open-mouthed kiss and a handjob. A sassy manservant is stripped of his clothing and revealed to be a eunuch. A tribe of feral women is ruled by a half-naked, highly effete, cherub-like figure named Marteetee, and so on.
Your Highness reaches its homoerotic apex during a pivotal scene in which Thadeous, in his first real act of bravery, intervenes to prevent Courtney from being raped by a minotaur, which minotaur happens to be sporting a massive erection. Wanting a trophy to commemorate the deed, he severs the slain beast's still-engorged member and hangs it around his neck, giving us, for the remainder of the film, a vivid monument to its most reliable comic device. (It's an impressive sight - I fully expect "hung like a minotaur" to gain much greater prevalence in the lexicon should Your Highness be a hit.)
Not that there's anything wrong with that. And Your Highness does throw in a few hetero bits to help balance the sexual ledger, especially when the cast is joined by Natalie Portman, playing a feisty fellow-quester and McBride's unlikely romantic foil. Portman should at the very least be commended for being able to utter lines about a ''burning in her beaver'' with unvarnished sincerity.
Your Highness is often wickedly funny - a filthy, spot-on send-up of The Beastmaster, Krull, and other campy '80s fantasy flicks. But there's precious little beyond the filth, and eventually the bawdy language and infantile shenanigans grow repetitive, especially when the plot starts to meander in the second act. Green's primary comic instinct is to aim for shock value -- as in Pineapple Express, the action in Your Highness is punctuated by cartoonish violence -- which grows tedious toward the end. His efforts would have been better devoted to expanding Theroux's and Deschanel's roles -- they remain woefully underutilized -- or giving McBride something funnier to say than ''motherf*cker.''
Hollywood.com rated this film 3 stars.