Despite the middling reviews for Danny McBride’s Your Highness, the film is actually a well-structured fantasy film. This is hard for me to say because, in general, I do not enjoy fantasy movies. It might be the fact that it was a comedy, and it may even be the fact that they kept the pace brisk instead of spending time on showcasing the fantasy world they created. Regardless, it is a competent film that is worth watching if the viewer cares about fantasy and/or dirty comedy. Yes, dirty comedy.
I have no problem with low-brow humor. My movie diet in high school were the works of Kevin Smith (and Fight Club), after all. Maybe age finally caught up to me, or maybe my appreciation for such films reached its saturation point; but dirty dick humor just doesn’t quite work for me the way it once did. Zack and Miri Make a Porno would have been a much more enjoyable film if it weren’t so crass. Your Highness would have been a more fun film if they excised the moments in which characters swore for the sake of swearing. Four-letter words are best used in precision comedy strikes, not just uttered to make sure people are paying attention. Not when they’re uttered for the guffaws of 16 year-olds who decided to sneak into the screening. At some points the film sounded less like a crafted tale and more like a high school lunch table.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the worst part. I really don’t want to believe that I’ve become someone overly sensitive to small things in film, but aspects of Your Highness struck me as homophobic. Again, this was something to cater to the high school crowd who think saying, “No homo,” is a great save from possible encounters. One minor joke is when James Franco’s character Fabious, totally innocent to our cultured understanding of words, invites his brother Thaddeus (McBride) to be gay with their father and him. Thaddeus makes it a point to say he does not want that, especially emphasizing “gay” when he says he does not want to do it. This was a completely innocent request on the part of Fabious, who just wants his brother to be happy. This was not the worst of the jokes.
The rest of the gay jokes involve characters who seem to have same sex interests. The first encounter involves the Great Wise Wizard, who requests manual stimulation after providing help to the brothers. It is revealed that Fabious had been performing such tasks for the Wizard ever since childhood. That’s OK because an off-hand comment about this childhood molestation was made later on, which implies that this sort of thing is laughable.
Later in the film we find that Leezar (Justin Theroux) is trying to impregnate Fabious’ intended bride (Zooey Deschanel, who probably hasn’t played a completely normal character since Almost Famous) , but he has difficulties because he does not find her attractive. When Thaddeus saves her, he tells Leezar, “If you want to fuck her, you’ll have to fuck me first.” Leezar tells him it will be his pleasure. Around the same time, Fabious is fighting his old best friend and betrayer, Boremont (Damian Lewis). Boremont basically tells him that the betrayal was because he loved him – as a man loves another man. Fabious fights him and defeats him. What these encounters say is that gay is evil.
Some might say that humor is supposed to be no-holds-barred. I couldn’t agree more. But there is a certain social responsibility required when making jokes like that. The best comedians make jokes of socially irredeemable value while making it clear that they’re being tongue-in-cheek. There was no irony in Your Highness‘ homophobia. It was just an unfortunate subtext. I do not believe that Danny McBride or any of the people involved are homophobic, but their movie did turn out that way. It’s a shame, too, because this was one of the few fantasy films I could almost get behind. The subtext and unnecessary crudeness ruined that one.
Posted on April 20, 2011, in Bechdel failure, comedy, fantasy, medieval, movies, review and tagged Bechdel failure, fantasy, humor, medieval fantasy, movies, review. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.