Have you ever wondered
how a minotaur is hung? If so, you’re in luck, as David Gordon Green
would like to clear up that mystery in his new film, Your
Highness
. A year ago I flew to Belfast, Northern Ireland to
visit the set of the film, and when I wasn’t learning about minotaur
cock, I was transported into a whole other world. A fairly convincing
fantasy world.

See, Green and company
aren’t fucking around. Working from a script by Danny McBride and Ben
Best (who cowrote Foot Fist Way and Eastbound and
Down
), Green has created a fantasy world that will look
familiar to those of us who grew up on Krull and The
Sword & The Sorceror
.
The pilot for the HBO series A
Game of Thrones
is shooting nearby, and word on the set is
that those guys – you know, the guys doing fantasy seriously and
without monster dick – are impressed by the look of Your
Highness
. I’m certainly impressed by the look of Your
Highness
; the scene that we have come to Ireland to see shot
– a wedding between the heroic Fabious (James Franco) and the lovely
Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel), which is interrupted by the evil and
campy wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux) – is being staged on a huge
castle set, with towering stone walls and massive, looming statuary.
It’s easy for a moment to forget that this is a soundstage, with lots
of scaffolding and curtains just behind enormous wooden doorways and
just through winding flagstone passageways. This doesn’t look like a
comedy.

But as soon as Leezar
shows up in the scene it’s obvious that this is a comedy.
Theroux riffs with a weary sarcasm, which is funny enough, but he’s
also dressed like someone too flamboyant for an 80s hair metal video.
And his hair… my writing ability fails at any attempt to describe
his ridiculous, wizardly quaff. There should be a picture of it
included here, and when asked about it in an interview, Theroux
basically said it was a riff on Gary Oldman’s do in Francis
Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula


So here’s the set up:
Belladonna had been a prisoner of Leezar, and Fabious, being a
chivalrous good hearted knight of the realm, rescued her. Upon return
to his home kingdom, Fabious intended to marry the maiden, but the
jealous Leezar crashed the party and stole the lady away. Fabious now
must rely on his self-centered, lazy, hipster, semi-moronic younger
brother, Thadeous (McBride), to go on a quest to rescue her. Along
the way they meet Isabel, a stunningly foul-mouthed warrior maiden
played by Natalie Portman in a holy shit sexy leather outfit. And
there are, of course, monsters and evil White People and horny,
well-hung minotaurs with which to contend.

The sets aren’t the only
thing giving off an authentic fantasy movie vibe. The prop room is a
treasure trove of swords and weapons and water pipes (medieval water
pipes, of course). As the film’s title indicates, Thadeous likes to
partake of a little bit of the Shire Weed from time to time, but
apparently this isn’t Ye Olde Pineapple Express (as
much as I would love to see that). There is stoner humor, but the
impression I get is that this is a stoner movie – in that it’s weird
and funny and completely unique. Not necessarily a movie about
getting stoned, but definitely a movie to watch while stoned.


There are prop makers
on set to whip up whatever might be needed that day. There’s also an
armourer, and as you can tell from the pictures Universal supplied
us, he did his job well. If it wasn’t Danny McBride in that suit of
armor you might think you had stumbled upon the remake of Excalibur
(or just the Game of Thrones pilot). But
fantasy isn’t just realistic medieval suits and swords; there are
also cool fantastical things like a sword made from a unicorn horn,
and a mechanical bird named Simon (shades of Bubo totally
intentional).

McBride isn’t working the
day that we come to set, but he’s there anyway, excited to show us
around. He takes us through the spiraling, multi-story tower that
belongs to Leezar, happily pointing out a mystical power crystal that
has been designed after a tortoise dick. There are, McBride brags, a
lot of phallic objects in this movie. In case the big swinging
minotaur dick didn’t give it away, Your Highness is an
R-rated film.

But there’s something
that nags as we walk around the detailed sets and look at the cool
armor and weapons and see a four minute sizzle reel that features
fantasy staples like dwarfs – what’s the tone here? Is this a spoof
film, where David Gordon Green and Danny McBride take aim at fantasy
films? To be honest, that’s kind of a stupid question if you’ve seen
their last collaboration, the brilliant Pineapple Express,
and Your Highness is essentially more of the same,
tone-wise. ‘One thing we’ve always said is that it’s not a parody at
all,’ McBride explained during a formal sit down interview. ‘Everyone
has a sigh of relief when we say we’re not making Spaceballs or
anything. We’re trying to make a fantasy movie for real that just
happens to be funny.’

All the elements of ‘a
fantasy movie for real’ are there. The fantasy creatures exist, and
there’s a rich world that’s being built – including many castles and
an entire constructed fantasy city, Muldiss Darlton, which McBride
describes as ‘some kind of McCabe and Mrs. Miller medieval
mining town’ – all of which is taken seriously within the context of
the film. But like Pineapple Express, each of the
characters gets to be humorous within that world which has been
created. 

There’s more to come! If
you’re interested in some of my other adventures while I was in
Ireland for this visit, you can check out a Devin’s Advocate about my
journey across a rope bridge suspended a hundred feet above the
choppy Irish waters
(HERE).
And in the coming days I’ll be bringing you interviews with Danny
McBride, Justin Theroux, David Gordon Green, Zooey Deschanel and
more. Your Highness will be making a big splash at New
York Comic Con this weekend, so I imagine you’ll soon be inundated
with stuff about the movie – be excited. Even when we were on set,
everyone understood this movie was a project getting snuck past the
goalie. This isn’t a mainstream film, it isn’t an easy sell. It’s a
wacky but straightfaced fantasy movie. With a big dicked minotaur.