I didn’t really enjoy myself the first time I decided to try this movie, and afterward I didn’t know how I felt about it. Then one day I saw it on again and I decided to give it another shot, and found myself laughing a lot more. Then I watched it a third time and was laughing practically the whole time. This calls for analysis.
Evidently this film grew on me, but part of enjoying this movie was coming to an understanding of exactly what the heck it was I was watching, which took some time and thought. Time and thought which may have been bypassed in a different state of mind, since I am pretty sure this is a stoner comedy, but my distance from that lifestyle has never hindered me from enjoying that kind of comedy before.
The fact is the reason this movie doesn’t quite make sense is that it doesn’t have a place in this universe. It is at its core a parody of fantasy epics, the kind they used to make in the 80’s, like Conan and Krull. The problem is, in the 90’s audiences lost interest in those kind of movies, and the genre died, until Lord of the Rings showed up, at which point the genre was redefined and everyone hoping to make a fantasy epic had to design it with LOTR as the standard, a standard which nobody could live up to (like the effect that Star Wars had on space adventure).
If I assume that Your Highness is spoofing 80’s fantasy flicks, then the quality of the action and special effects doesn’t fit, nor the amount of gore. It makes the most sense if I assume that this movie is a parody of what those kinds of films would be if they had continued to be made through the 90’s and were still around today. Thus, this movie doesn’t really belong in this universe but in a parallel universe with different movies.
Unfortunately, the only epic fantasy movies currently being made in our own universe are either considered too perfect to make fun of, or are the low-budget, made-for-TV flicks that are so bad that making fun of them feels too much like kicking a homeless puppy. Our universe lacks that sweet spot of B-epic fantasy movies that Your Highness needs in order to have a place here. But that’s fine by me. As I’ve stated elsewhere I don’t particularly fit this universe either.
The blending of the coarse language of adult comedies and the poetic dialect of fantasy tales makes for an entertaining combo that makes both feel equally ironic. I think this juxtaposition is the reason the obscenities don’t bother me in this movie as much as they normally would.
This movie is deceptively crappy in certain parts, which may be why the better scenes stand out more. The opening gave the impression that this was going to be low-budget. Then the first real action sequence occurred and I found myself unsure of what to make of all this. The FX are brilliant, the music is perfect and the action is well choreographed.
Zooey Deschanel makes a great princess. My favourite moments in this movie all have to do with her character (Princess Belladonna), particularly the dialogue between her and the main villain. Belladonna is the kind of princess I would go on an adventure to rescue. I would not, for example, go on an adventure to rescue Princess Leia – she is too annoying and not worth it – nor anybody named “Buttercup.”
Having said all that, there are some things that keep this movie from being perfect.
The main character (Danny McBride as Prince Thadeous) is far too difficult to like. I get that his character is supposed to be an annoying, self-centered jerk, but even as a complete jerk a main character has to have some degree of charm that makes us like them in spite of all their faults, and McBride doesn’t pull it off. He has his redeeming moments, but they are too sparse and far too late into the movie.
Additionally, adventure films like this (even comedic ones) are designed to make you want to join the heroes on the adventure, which for the most part this movie does, except for the Wise Wizard. That element significantly decreased my desire to adventure with them.
It’s almost pointless trying to do a Christian review of this movie, since I imagine most would stay away from it anyway, but if I gave this film a shot then there may be other Christians who would too.
The brunt of the nudity in this film is around the scene in the land of the “white people”, women who are naked but for minimal coverings of foliage and white mud. There is a significant character introduction that occurs here, as well as one of the coolest creatures in the whole movie, so it isn’t really skippable.
Sexuality is not so much acted out on screen as it is talked about. Part of the crudeness of the characters is their graphic references to sex which, again, is made humourously ironic by their poetic mannerisms.
Magic tends to stay fantasy based. I didn’t notice anything specifically occult except perhaps a scene with the manservant Julie pulling out his tooth and chanting something.
Gore is red and juicy. It’s surprisingly plentiful given the kind of fantasy epics that we’re used to, but it’s all the same shade of red and you can’t really tell one chunk of gore from another, which makes it overall less graphic.
In summary, I find this movie thoroughly enjoyable, though can’t imagine anyone I wouldn’t be embarrassed to watch it with. So I guess it falls under the category of guilty pleasure.