Your Highness review / Susan Granger
Updated 10:26 am, Tuesday, April 26, 2011
If Hollywood executives wonder why box-office receipts are down, this $50 million unmitigated disaster explains a lot. Reminiscent of Halle Berry's transitioning from an Oscar-caliber role to Catwoman, Natalie Portman follows her Academy Award-winning "Black Swan" with this dreadful adolescent fantasy. And if you thought James Franco looked dazed and confused as an Oscar-host, it may have been leftover lethargy from this R-rated stoner comedy.
Set in medieval times, it begins: "Prepare yourself for one twisted tale from the Golden Age of Knights." Around the palace, irresponsible Prince Thaddeous (Danny McBride) is known an impudent slacker, particularly when compared with his dashing older brother, Prince Fabious (Franco). But he's pressed into joining the heroic quest when Fabious' virginal bride, Belladona, (Zooey Deschanel) is kidnapped by an evil wizard (Justin Theroux). So much for the lamentable plot that revolves around twin moons and a sword made from a unicorn's horn.
Apparently, Danny McBride used to brainstorm zany ideas with director David Gordon Green when they were boozed-up undergrads at the North Carolina School of the Arts, and James Franco previously worked with Green on "Pineapple Express." They thought the picture of McBride in a chain-mail leotard with a joint in one hand and a sword in the other was hilarious, particularly when paired with the slogan, "Put this in your pipe and smoke it." So, working on the screenplay with another college friend, Ben Best, they elaborated on the concept. And Natalie Portman joined the weed-fueled project as an agile, Xena-like warrior after pitching Green about a possible remake of "Suspira," the Dario Argento horror movie set at a ballet academy - but that was before she made the more serious "Black Swan."
Shot primarily on a soundstage in Belfast, Ireland, in 2009, it's filled with profanity, vulgarity and reefer gags, along with a creepy, perverted, hookah-puffing, Yoda-like wizard purring, "Breathe deeply of these herbs and share a vision with me."
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On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Your Highness" sinks to a lowly 2. Fractured fairytale? Half-baked is more accurate.