When you read “strange” and “James Franco comedy” in one sentence, there could be a number of Franco films we are talking about. Today, we’re looking at Your Highness, the strange James Franco comedy Netflix has taken a chance and made available on their streaming service.
Your Highness is what’s known as a stoner comic fantasy and as the movie’s narrator first warns, “Prepare thyself for one twisted tale.” Yes, you truly have been warned from the jump. The opening sequence then reveals just exactly how low brow and raunchy (and funny, if stoner comic fantasy is your cup of tea) the film you’re about to see really is.
Your Highness tells the story of Prince Fabious (James Franco) and Prince Thadeous (Danny McBride), sons of King Tallious (Charles Dance). By his name alone, we know that Franco’s Fabious is just that. He is the good son. The brave one. The one who will become King when his father passes.
Thadeous, on the other hand, is the ultimate slacker. Always high, forever lazy, and put-off, he has zero desire to lead or even follow. He just wishes to remain stoned. Courtney (played by Rasmus Hardiker) is his servant, best friend, and stoner partner in crime.
When James Franco’s character returns home from his hard-fought victory over Leezar (Justin Theroux), the evil sorcerer, he brings with him the virgin maiden Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel). He has rescued her from the tower with which Leezar had kept her captive. Now, Fabious wishes to marry her and he receives his blessing from the King. Immediately, though, we see just how jealous Thadeus is of Fabious.
Fabious, though, truly loves his brother and only wants to make him the prince he should be. He asks Thadeous to be his best man, to which Thadeous begrudgingly accepts. But Thadeous hears Fabious’ Knights Elite talk ill of Thadeous, so he skips the wedding.
At the wedding, Leezar appears and though Fabious and his men put up a good fight, Leezar kidnaps Belladonna once again, declaring he will fulfill his prophecy of a warlock having sex with a maiden to impregnate her with a dragon. This dragon will help Leezar take over King Tallious’s kingdom.
When Thadeous reappears, the kingdom is in shambles. His father then tasks Thadeous to go with James Franco’s Fabious to rescue Belladonna or he will be banished. Thadeous has no choice but to go.
With their trek underway, a few secrets are revealed. Thadeous discovers that Julie (Toby Jones), Fabious’s eunuch slave, has been secretly working with Leezar, as have Fabious’ Knights Elite. The brothers are then attacked by a monster, only to be saved by Isabel (Natalie Portman).
Isabel joins the brothers on their quest to save Belladonna as Isabel is seeking revenge for her brothers, who were slaughtered by Leezar. Reluctant to fight or be brave at any point during the quest, Thadeous has no choice but to step up when Fabious is captured by Leezar’s men. Together with Isabel, they finally make their way to Leezar’s lair and the battle is on.
You don’t have to be stoned to find humor in this movie (though it may help), you just have to really lower expectations and be a fan of James Franco and Danny McBride’s brand of comedy. There are definitely some laugh-out-loud moments. But the humor is definitely an acquired taste, one that not many had.
Your Highness was met with a lot of critical negativity, most centered around the low-brow humor. Roger Ebert of the Chicago-Sun Times summed it up by saying the movie is “juvenile excrescence that feels like the work of 11-year-old boys in love with dungeons, dragons, warrior women, pot, boobs and four-letter words.”
Franco even understood what many thought of the movie when he joked, via Entertainment Weekly, about the movie during the Comedy Central James Franco Roast. “I agreed to do this roast because I wanted to do something I’ve never done before — something that has zero artistic value, something nobody will remember three months from now, something that’s offensive, homophobic and stars horrifically untalented people and something that’s only a big deal to a handful of teenage stoners on Twitter. You might say, ‘James, didn’t you just describe Your Highness? I wouldn’t know I didn’t see Your Highness.”
Your Highness is not the first time James Franco and Danny McBride have teamed up. Pineapple Express is one of their most popular films but throughout their careers, they have also cameoed in each other’s movies.
James Franco has had one of the more eclectic movie careers. At once he is an Academy Award-nominated actor for 127 Hours, then he stars in movies such as Your Highness. Franco has starred in the long-running soap opera General Hospital, then finds himself in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy. He won a Golden Globe for The Disaster Artist and James Dean, but then spends time with Seth Rogen on This is the End.
James Franco is also a noted author and recording artist having authored numerous books as well as three albums to his credit. Franco has also found time behind the camera, directing numerous films. His next directing effort will also be a feature he is starring in, The Long Home.
For now, roll on over to Netflix and spark up some Your Highness. Yes, it’s low-brow, juvenile, and raunchy, but it has its moments.