Dude, where’s my lance?

is a sham­bling but un­de­ni­ably funny stoner com­edy, writes Don­ald Clarke

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Reviews -

WRIT­ING ON Sa­lon.com, Andrew O’Hehir, a grown-up film critic, re­cently asked: “Is Your High­ness the worst film ever made?” Any no­tion that O’Hehir might be on to some­thing was, for this writer, soundly trashed when I laughed out loud at three vividly de­scribed ex­am­ples of the film’s sup­posed aw­ful­ness in O’Hehir’s re­view.

This prob­a­bly sug­gests that one of us is a bleed­ing id­iot. Given that a sam­ple in­ci­dent in­volves Danny McBride wear­ing a Mino­taur’s pe­nis round his neck, O’Hehir can prob­a­bly stand down the lawyers. Me think Your High­ness funny film!

Still, there’s no deny­ing that


there is a great deal of slum­ming go­ing on here. Few direc­tors have fol­lowed such a pe­cu­liar ca­reer arc as David Gor­don Green. A decade ago, Green, af­ter re­leas­ing a gor­geous, pon­der­ous film called Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton, was in­stalled as the fu­ture of Amer­i­can art­house cin­ema. Fur­ther ac­claim greeted All the Real Girls and Un­der­tow.

Since then Green has made Pineap­ple Ex­press, an agree­ably mo­ronic stoner com­edy set in con­tem­po­rary Amer­ica, and Your High­ness, an agree­ably mo­ronic stoner com­edy set in . . .

Well, where ex­actly? At times, we are in medieval Eng­land. At oth­ers, the ad­ven­tures seem to be tak­ing place in Terry Pratch­ett’s Dis­c­world. For most of the film’s du­ra­tion, how­ever, the ac­tion plays out in the THC-rav­aged outer lobes of a flunk­ing un­der­grad­u­ate’s mis­used brain. It’s rather as if Ing­mar Bergman moved straight from Per­sona to Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.

In tribute to North­ern Ire­land, where the film was shot, the myth­i­cal lo­ca­tion has been named the King­dom of Mourne. James Franco takes time out from his PhD stud­ies (more slum­ming) to play a suave, gal­lant prince named Fabi­ous.

Fol­low­ing that lazy Os­car per­for­mance, a fug of com­pla­cency still hangs around Franco, but Your High­ness re­minds us that he un­der­stands the rhythms of broad com­edy. A lit­tle bit Er­rol Flynn, a lit­tle bit Flash Gor­don, Franco’s Fabi­ous makes a daz­zling nui­sance of the hero. One can eas­ily un­der­stand why Thadeous (Danny McBride), his fat, stoned brother, re­sents him so much.

Af­ter a por­tion of War of War­craft chat­ter, the two brothers set off on a dan­ger­ous quest. Fair maiden Zooey Deschanel (slum, slum, slum) has been kid­napped by a sex-mad wizard and they must res­cue her be­fore “the f**ken­ing” be­gins.

Your High­ness looks and sounds a lit­tle bit like The Princess Bride. Mind you, 2001: A Space Odyssey looks and sounds a lit­tle bit like At­tack of the Alien Slab Mon­sters. More than any­thing else – more even than Cheech and Chong’s The Can­ter­bury Tales – the pic­ture sug­gests the work Mel Brooks de­liv­ered when he was in transit from magnificent clown to wa­tertread­ing em­bar­rass­ment. It’s not as good as When Things Were Rot­ten, Brooks’s for­got­ten TV se­ries, but it’s a lit­tle bet­ter than the great man’s His­tory of the World Part II.

The best and most fre­quently used joke has to do with the anachro­nis­tic trans­plant­ing of mar­i­juana cul­ture to a world of sil­vered helms, blood­ied broadswords and flut­ter­ing damsels. Your en­joy­ment of Your High­ness prob­a­bly de­pends on your tol­er­ance for peo­ple in chain­mail say­ing “f**k, yeah” while chew­ing on roasted boar bits.

Hap­pily, McBride, whose co-writ­ing du­ties can barely have ex­hausted an af­ter­noon, proves just the man to ex­tract hu­mour from flog­ging a horse that was gather­ing flies months be­fore the film crew ar­rived at the Gi­ant’s Cause­way. His slovenly, red-eyed tru­cu­lence is a lazy plea­sure through­out.

In short, Your High­ness does ev­ery­thing you’d ex­pect from a stoner com­edy. Jokes ex­tend them­selves well be­yond the length any non-med­i­cated au­di­ence could bear. Cre­ative stu­pid­ity is ev­ery­where about. The bag­gi­ness and dis­or­der are es­sen­tial parts of the hemp-fu­elled aes­thetic.

The worst film ever made? Heck no. Chill out, sire.

When things were rockin’: Natalie Port­man, Danny McBride and James Franco

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