Your Highness


David Gordon Green‘s follow-up to “Pineapple Express” and further step away from the artsy lyricism of his early films (“George Washington”, “All the Real Girls”, etc.) has got to be the silliest sword and sorcery flick ever made, filled as it is with dick jokes, stoner gags, homoerotic humor, gratuitous nudity and ridiculously gory confrontations with mythical creatures. Still, as goofy as it can be, what truly makes it such a rewarding watch is how faithful it remains to the codes of the genre and how damn well crafted it is.

Seriously, even though some of it is intentionally a bit cheesy, in a throwback to the style of early 1980s fantasy movies, for the most part, this is a truly well designed picture. The cinematography by Tim Orr, for one, is almost as gorgeously colorful as old Technicolor adventure films like “The Adventures of Robin Hood”, and I also loved the rousing score composed by Steve Jablonsky as well as the awesome creature and makeup effects by Mike Elizalde (amongst other things, he previously worked on the “Hellboy” movies).

The gloriously shameless Danny McBride who, in between his breakthrough in “The Foot Fist Way” and his starring role in the HBO series “Eastbound & Down”, has grown into probably my favorite current comedic actor, co-wrote the “Your Highness” screenplay (with Ben Best) and stars in it as Thadeous, a prince who’s forever been in the shadow of his heroic brother Fabious (James Franco) and who, in turn, acts up by being boorish.

“I know your vulgarity masks your pain”, he’s accurately told early on and, when Fabious’ virgin bride-to-be Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) is kidnapped by an evil warlock (Justin Theroux) who intends to plant his seed into her during a double-moon eclipse in order to create a dragon (!), it’s Thadeous’ opportunity to rise up to the occasion by joining his brother in his quest to rescue her.

Over the course of the film, the brothers, joined by long-suffering squire Courtney ( Rasmus Hardiker) and badass female warrior Isabel (Natalie Portman), will run into everything from dwarves to a perverted wizard, bare-breasted savage women, a five-headed snake monster, witches and a motherfucking minotaur. Hilarity abounds, but also excitement, horror and wonder.

If you’re a fan of films like “Conan the Barbarian” and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, not to mention their countless knock-offs, you should have a great time with “Your Highness”, which works both as a sword and sorcery feature that actually delivers the goods and as a spoof of the genre. It’s the best movie of its kind since Sam Raimi’s “Army of Darkness”.