If I watch a comedy and really like some of the action pieces and cooler parts to the story, but don’t find it that funny, does that make it a bad film? I made this argument in my review for The Switch. This wasn’t necessarily a bad film but marketing it as a romantic comedy meant it didn’t really do what romantic comedies do. It was a great drama but not very romantic or funny.
Your Highness suffers from the same sort of problem. As a concept it’s great. A medieval stoner prince and his impressive, hero brother go on a quest to rescue a beautiful princess from an evil wizard. They meet crazy characters on the way, have ridiculous moments to their quest and generally take the mick out of the whole “swords and sorcerers” genre. It is the kind of film that Mel Brooks was making about fifteen to twenty years ago.
Most of the time though, Mel Brooks’ films were funny. Your Highness isn’t. As a comedy, it doesn’t really do anything that creative or innovative. Hearing someone swear in a mock, medieval British accent is quirky the first time you hear it, never actually funny. Trying to be clever with the use of the word gay just doesn’t make me laugh anymore. Once they’ve introduced Danny McBride’s stoner prince (in a very cool animated opening sequence) and James Franco’s hero brother character and they’ve cracked a couple of jokes, we never really move forward. It’s the same jokes over and over again, nothing fresh from the characters at all.
It might not be funny, but the action and adventure parts of the story, with the wizards and cool monsters is really good. I might not have laughed but I was enjoying the actual adventure and the story it was trying to tell. Some of the set pieces were worthy of a serious fantasy or action film. The chase between knights and a horse and cart was brilliant, as was a monster fight in a “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” style arena.
The actors might not be funny either but that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing a good job. It’s great to see James Franco “messing around” rather than trying to be serious and intense in films like 127 Hours. Danny McBride is also very good but not quite the heavyweight comedian that I think a lot of people rate him as. Natalie Portman was also a random addition to the film but again, she plays her part very well. In fact part of the films charm was that everyone looks like they are enjoying what they’re doing. I read afterwards that a lot of the dialogue was improvised and if so, each actor does a really good job. Unfortunately, for what is marketed and packaged as a comedy, it just isn’t funny.
Overall, I enjoyed Your Highness but because I thought it was cool. The action sequences and fantasy, magic set pieces were brilliantly done and that’s what kept my interest. Unfortunately, I wanted to watch a comedy, something I thought would be a clever spoof on fantasy films. I do still think a comedy can be a good film, even if it isn’t funny.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)