Saturday 20 January 2018

Movies: Your Highness **

(16, general release)

Paul Whitington

James Franco and Danny McBride look like they had a high old time making Your Highness.The film was partly shot here and, when I interviewed them while they were making it, there was much thigh-slapping and general mirth.

Sadly, that atmosphere of bonhomie has not survived in the finished product -- a troubled comedy that manages to be infantile but not funny, unpleasant but not especially interesting. A ham-fisted spoof on the medieval movie genre, Your Highness is set in a mythical past populated by mythical beasts and evil wizards, and focuses on the rivalry between two princes.

While Fabious (Franco) is a handsome, warrior-slaying, perma-grinning paragon, Thadeous (McBride) is rather less handsome, and something of a coward. A constant disappointment to his father, Thadeous bitterly resents his popular sibling, who remains annoyingly devoted to him. Fabious is betrothed to a beautiful virgin called Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), and when she's abducted by an evil wizard called Leezar, the two brothers set out to rescue her. Thadeous does so reluctantly, but the brothers' quest will be a journey of discovery for him, and when they join forces with a fierce female warrior called Isabel (Natalie Portman), Thadeous will fall in love.

Your Highness boasts a decent supporting cast that includes Toby Jones, Charles Dance and Justin Theroux, and feels like it should have been funny. That it mainly isn't is down to a number of factors. Firstly, the script is too witlessly reminiscent of those awful stoner films that trade on their protagonists' clueless inactivity -- films such as Pineapple Express, in which Messrs Franco and McBride starred.

Secondly, the character of Thadeous isn't funny enough to carry the film. Bob Hope carved a beautiful career out of playing charming cowards, but although Thadeous starts out as a scaredy cat he quickly grows a backbone, which instantly destroys his comic potential. Perhaps as a result, Your Highness resorts to ever more crude and clumsy jokes as it staggers towards a merciful conclusion.

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