David Gordon Green’s latest movie, “Your Highness,” is only funny for the first 10 minutes or so. After that, its immature and vulgar humor gets old.
James Franco and Danny McBride star as princes Fabious and Thadeus. One brother has a thirst for questing, the other is a waste of space, whose idea of an adventure is boiling a chicken.
When Fabious’s bride-to-be Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) is abducted by the evil sorcerer Leezar (Justin Theroux), the king commands Thadeus (and his faithful sidekick Courtney) to journey with his brother and rescue the maiden.
Along the way, they meet a mysterious bow-toting ally named Isabel (Natalie Portman), throw out an insurmountable number of male genitalia references, and are molested by a minotaur and a wise wizard. Add to that the silly use of old English, and in a nutshell that’s really all there is to “Your Highness.”
It’s a shame coming from Green, whose filmmography is filled with spirited independent projects and the highly amusing “Pineapple Express,” which also starred Franco and McBride.
Through all the failed sophomoric jokes, the cast makes a lot of “Your Highness” tolerable. A few gags – particularly “Triangle Face” – work for me. Still, the movie is a disappointment.
“Paul” reteams the comic duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”), whose work until now has been nothing short of brilliant. “Paul” … not so much.
Pegg and Frost star as Graeme and Clive, a couple of British comic book nerds on a road trip to all of the major UFO hotspots in the U.S. While investigating a crash along the highway, they meet Paul (the cause of the accident), a pot-bellied, slacker alien (voiced by Seth Rogen) who is on the run from government officials led by Jason Bateman’s Agent Zoil.
What follows is a road trip comedy that plays out kind of like “Mac and Me” or “E.T.” with more adult-oriented jokes and jabs at its two geeky leads. The movie uses Paul to his fullest, a run-of-the-mill alien with a filthy mouth, whose brashness is a source of much of the film’s humor. And he’s quite funny.
“Paul” is less consistent in its delivery than Pegg and Frost’s previous films, and it never delivers the big laughs. There are a few funny moments in “Paul,” but when compared to “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” it falls a little short. That might be because “Paul” is from director Greg Mottola, and not Edgar Wright.
You might look at the premise of “Super,” James Gunn’s latest movie, and think it’s just some rehash of “Kick-Ass.” Not exactly.
Like “Kick-Ass,” “Super” is about a hero without powers, played by Rainn Wilson. His name is Frank aka The Crimson Bolt, an alter-ego created after Frank loses his wife (Liv Tyler) to Jacques, an over-the-top criminal brought to life by Kevin Bacon.
Frank begins obsessing about superheroes, wondering why nobody ever seems to stand up for what’s right. Frank, himself, can’t even put his foot down as he sees his wife slipping away from him, down a dark path filled with drugs and alcohol.
After having his brain touched by God (eluding to Frank’s delusional side) he transforms into a vigilante, slaying evil-doers with his modified pipe wrench.
There’s a problem with the wiring of Frank’s brain, as seen in his vicious attack against movie theater patrons who cut in line. Frank’s mental stability is brought into question throughout the movie.
And if Frank/The Crimson Bolt is psychologically damaged, his sidekick, Libby aka Boltie (Ellen Page), is downright mad. Her passion for violence (lots of violence) and the “hero” lifestyle leaves her cackling like a psychopath. Clearly, she missed Uncle Ben’s speech, when he told Peter Parker “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Thematically, the film lacks originality, but where “Kick-Ass” was polished and slick in its delivery, “Super” is not. Gunn returns to his low-budget, politically incorrect Troma roots with much of the movie, which will be off-putting for some, but a treasure for others.
For “Super,” Gunn also assembles a cast that lives up to the film’s title. Page, Bacon and Nathan Fillion (a tiny, but memorable role) are not to be missed.
By Anthony Crabtree, Guest Blogger
“Clash” has some tremendous fight scenes that will blow you away. Johnny Nguyen writes and stars in this action film about Trinh (Veronica Ngo), a woman who is trying to get her daughter back from the ruthless criminal named Black Dragon. Black Dragon has her daughter hostage and in order to get her back she has to recover an important laptop for him. To succeed, Trinh recruits a group of four mercenaries to help her.
The plot is contrived, and while there are some twists along the way, the twists are not enough to differentiate it from any other traditional action film. However, the plot is not what matters so much, as the fight scenes will keep you far from bored. They are fast paced and hard hitting, never giving you a moment to rest. This is the main area where the film works and that is all that really matters with an action film of this nature.
“Clash” also creates two stars who I would certainly like to see more of. While their characters may not have much depth, Nguyen has a charismatic personality that makes him prime for more lead roles and Ngo has a certain je ne sais quois that will leave viewers wanting to see more of her. The two previously worked together in a previous Vietnam action film called “The Rebel,” so if you view this and want more, go directly to that film.
Despite its weak plot, the film overcomes that with the two leads and the excellent action sequences. “Clash” is a film that will bring nothing new to the table, but it is entertaining.
Grade: B –