‘How sweet to be an idiot…’ These words, sung by Neil Innes back in 1973, could be embroidered, framed and hung on the wall of every Hollywood executive: in the twenty-first century, idiocy isn’t just sweet, it sells. But is that such a bad thing?
A tale of swords, sorcery and getting seriously stoned, Your Highness isn’t going to enrich the inner lives of its audience – in fact, you can almost hear your brain cells groaning as you watch it. But the film’s sense of boundless, romping enthusiasm, and the joy it takes in its own wilful stupidity, are so infectious that it’s hard not to get swept along.
Finally granted a lead role following the Stateside success of his HBO sitcom Eastbound and Down, writer-star Danny McBride plays Thadeous. the layabout son of a great medieval royal house whose elder brother Fabious (James Franco) does all the mighty deeds and claims all the glory. But when Fabious’s blushing bride-to-be Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) is kidnapped by a horny warlord, his father King Tallious (Charles Dance) insists that both his sons join the obligatory rescue quest. All that stands in their way are a paedophile wizard, a well-hung minotaur and Natalie Portman in a thong.
The most remarkable thing about Your Highness is how a film so unashamedly ridiculous managed to attract such a spectacular cast: in addition to two of this year’s Oscar nominees, we’re treated to ripe turns from homegrown character-acting greats like Damian Lewis and Toby Jones. With McBride and Franco trying on knowingly bad Brit accents and the entire cast clearly having a whale of a time, the impression is of the world’s daftest, priciest, least self-serious end-of-the-pier panto. And where’s the harm in that? Tom Huddleston