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Review: 'Your Highness' will harsh your mellow

** (out of four)

Heroic Prince Fabious (James Franco) can do no wrong. His younger brother Thadeous (Danny McBride, who co-wrote the script) can do no right, and would rather get high than change his ways. They team up with a revenge-seeking warrior (Natalie Portman) to slay a mighty wizard (Justin Theroux) and rescue Fabious' busty virgin bride (Zooey Deschanel).

The buzz: McBride’s last big-screen writing effort was the horribly mean-spirited “The Foot Fist Way.” Perhaps director David Gordon Green (the lovely “Snow Angels” and underrated “Pineapple Express”) can keep the vibes friendlier and closer to a “Princess Bride”-style fairy tale, only funnier.

The verdict: Wow, I did not expect this to be so bloody. Or that more than half the jokes, if you can call them that, are merely the surprising use of profanity. Franco and Portman are life-savers here; McBride’s character is the movie’s dead weight, an obnoxious, insensitive coward who would be irritating in a comedy but is downright awful in a plodding adventure that takes its gruesome action far too seriously. Stoners may freak out, sober viewers should grow restless, and no one will laugh much.

Did you know? At one point Thadeous and Fabious meet an herb-smoking wizard monster who apparently molested Fabious when he was a boy. “Your Highness” is very amused by the notion of rape, which is not funny.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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