Motivation missing from flick

Keith Kaczmarek

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“Your Highness” is an iconic stoner movie. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but there are enough flaws in that genre that if someone makes an iconic example of that genre you are probably not going to watch this movie again when it comes to video.

Starring Danny McBride and James Franco as princely brothers Thaddeus and Fabious, they play out the classic stoner story with the twist that it happens to be a Lord of the Rings-style fantasy story. One is the fun-loving, unmotivated, and fat stoner prince and the other is a caricature of the noble fantasy hero, and their adventure involves a stock evil wizard with a particularly perverse plan for world domination (I won’t spoil it for you).

The humor is sophomoric, but that’s its strong point and for that I give it high marks. There are some comedic boundaries that they cross that I don’t think will ever be crossed again without people inevitably comparing them to “Your Highness.”

I also approve of the mostly senseless nudity that harkens back to the sex comedies of the 1980s when filmmakers were aware that you could sell a weak plot by getting some people naked and they weren’t ashamed to just do that.

The female casting also seemed inspired with the lovely Natalie Portman and the doll-like Zooey Deschanel. They didn’t get the best lines or the most interesting characters, but it was a pleasure to watch both in a sword and sorcery picture.

My biggest criticism is that not only just this feels like a stoner movie with pointless drug references and scenes of drug use and general anti-establishment themes, but this movie feels like it was made by stoners.

They tend to repeat the same jokes over and over, the plot is simple to the point of absurdity, the non-stoners are all portrayed as humorless and without a clue, and the bar is set so low on the stoner hero that as a viewer you wonder if he has any redeeming qualities at all.

The film misses the essential theme of the stoner picture: the stoner hero gets some motivation (like Seth Rogan’s character in “Knocked Up”) or he averts some personal disaster while having a great time and making the audience love him with his irreverent ways (Cheech and Chong in “Up in Smoke”).

In “Your Highness,” I’m left with the opinion that even while the world was saved, Thaddeus is just going to get killed in the next adventure if his brother isn’t around to do the real fighting, and I’m actually OK with that. I never really liked Thaddeus, and if he meets some ignoble end like being stabbed by a stable boy for being a jerk, I’d be fine with that.

Perhaps I’m over-thinking this movie and the other critics are correct when they assume that this movie would be more fun if the audience were stoned.

Personally, I enjoyed this movie for the 90 minutes I was in the theater and it did get some authentic laughs, but I was having trouble staying awake, and I’m not sure that being stoned would have helped with that issue.

2/5

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