Natalie Portman, Danny McBride, James Franco, and Zooey Deschanel.
Last Friday, rather randomly, I trekked out to see Your
Highness at the local multiplex. The trailers I’d been running on AfterElton.com were
funny, and I was looking forward to watching something without my usual gay agenda in tow.
Sadly, I was wrong on both counts.
Your Highness is pretty much your typical man-child movie, but set in a medieval setting and with more dick jokes. A lot
more dick jokes.
As for the plot, two princely brothers, Fabious
(James Franco) and Thadeus (Danny McBride) have a sibling rivalry going, with good brother Fabious being the
first born as well as the hero, while Thadeus is the screw-up who gets high and goes around
pinching serving girls’ bums. The humor comes from the contrast between Fabious’
earnest innocence (“Come be gay with father and me!” he exhorts his mopey
brother at a party) and Thadeus’ sullen slacker nature.
Naturally, they end up on a quest together after
Fabious’ bride Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) is kidnapped by the evil
wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux), who wants to impregnate her so she’ll give birth
to a dragon. Also along on the quest are the brothers’ knights who, somewhat shockingly, betray their princes. And that’s
where things got gay – you just don’t know it yet.
Shortly after visiting the non-human Old Wizard, who had
evidently been molesting Fabious prior to every quest since he was a teen (you thought this was their first quest?), the
knights are exposed as traitors who are secretly communicating with Leezar.
The Old Wizard is generally described as a “pervert.”
After escaping their traitorous knights, Thadeus and Fabious run into Isabel (Natalie Portman), who is also after Leezar for her own reasons. When Fabious is captured by Leezar, Isabel joins forces with Thadeus to rescue him since Leezar is now imprisoned in a sling that looks like it was purchased at Mid Atlantic Leather Weekend. To add insult to injury, he’s also being whipped by his former squire.
At one point, Isabel aids Thadeus in procuring the Sword of Unicorn
and slaying the Minotaur (don’t ask since it didn’t make sense in the movie either), and Thadeus takes the monstrous peen of the Minotaur as a
trophy to wear around his neck, where it will bounce jauntily for the rest of the film.
As the rescue of Fabious comes to its conclusion, our heroes venture off to fight their own battles, with Thadeus fighting Leezar with the Sword of Unicorn, Isabel
battling Leezar’s magical mothers, and Fabious battling his traitorous knights.
One of those knights is Boremont (Damien Lewis), and prior to betraying Thadeus, he was also his closest
friend. As Boremont lies mortally
wounded in Fabious’ arms, he confesses his betrayal was done out of jealousy, for he
had long loved his prince. Fabious says he had also loved Boremont, “as a knight loves a
knight” to which Boremont explains that for him it was different, more of “as a man loves a man.”
This elicits nothing but
a raised eyebrow from Fabious, and is a surprisingly touching moment.
Boremont (Damien Lewis) betrayed his prince out of love and jealousy.
Another “gay” moment occurs as Thadeus fights to save Belladonna from Lezar, who is attempting to fight off Thadeus while simultaneously trying to impregnate Belladonna. Naturally, this latter task proves somewhat difficult, but when
Thadeus puts himself between Leezar and Belladonna, challenging “If you want to
have sex with Belladonna, you’ll have to have sex with me first,” Leezar is
positively delighted with the offer. Because what’s a creepy villain without some hint of queerness, right?
Of course, we all know this is a fairy tale, and all fairy
tales have “happy” endings — for the straight folks anyway. Both Boremont and Leezar, the male characters who expressed sexual interest in
other males are dead, while the heterosexual princes live and get the girl, but it
was less about them being heterosexual than it was about them being princes.
For a movie that traffics so heavily in juvenile humor,
there is no malicious tone behind the gay jokes, or even the gay reveals. It
was handled as well as one could expect (aside from the queer villain aspect), and I wasn’t any more offended by the
gay elements than I was by the sloppy writing elsewhere in the script.
I’m not recommending the film, because it’s not that great.
But as a gay man, I’m not mad at it either.