When you hear the narrator of Your Highness trail off during his opening spiel by mumbling, “…or some shit,” you can practically see the smirks on the faces of Eastbound and Down collaborators Ben Best and Danny McBride. Like Pineapple Express, former American indie icon David Gordon Green’s latest stoner pastiche, Your Highness, is high on its own stupidity. He and his screenwriters bemusedly disdain the generic clichés they employ throughout their pot-and-swords-and-sorcery comedy because, well, they’re stoners writing a stoner comedy. They’re too good for this shit, and yet, because they didn’t really expend much creative energy working on the project, they also kind of colluded to crank it out all the same. Your Highness is consequently a crudely satisfying series of mad libs; toss in a few “motherfucker"s, a bunch of homophobic jokes, and a liberal amount of cannabis-centric humor and, bam, you have Green’s movie.
The jokes in Your Highness practically work in spite of its creators’ own fabulous laziness. Then again, Green has attracted a very enjoyable ensemble of comedians, including Natalie Portman as a chastity belt-clad warrior maiden. McBride stars as Thadeous, slovenly coward and second-born prince after dashing, stalwart Prince Fabious (James Franco). Thadeous has to team up with his brother shortly after Fabious’s fiancé, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), is kidnapped by the evil wizard Leezar (a wonderfully on-point Justin Theroux). Together, they—spoilers herein!—stroke off a muppet wizard, suck venom from a leg wound, and cut off the penis of a minotaur that was slain with a bone-sword that looks a lot like Skeletor’s sword. The film is peppered with references to the Mortal Kombat games, Highlander, even Clash of the Titans. And there are pot jokes and tits. In theory, Your Highness should be the best thing ever.
And yet the most charming thing about Your Highness is that somebody took the time to make it. Green drags his feet throughout, having learned nothing about how to film an action scene since Pineapple Express, or how to generally pace a comedy. He goes through Your Highness‘s delirious but mostly just monotonous motions as if all he needed to do to succeed was commit to filming McBride and Franco talking about their dicks and smoking some icky sticky. Pot comedies may not be rocket science, but a few more script revisions would have probably gone a long way here.