DID YOU READ

“Your Highness,” Reviewed

“Your Highness,” Reviewed (photo)

Posted by on

The target audience for “Your Highness” is at least four years too young to legally watch it. The film is part spoof, part celebration of the schlocky fantasy films of the ’70s and ’80s which hastened a generation of boys into puberty when their copious servings of blood and nudity appeared on late night cable. “Your Highness,” a sort of fantasy of fantasy, was made by two alumni of that generation: director David Gordon Green and co-writer and star Danny McBride. What they’ve done is pay it forward, cinematically speaking: they loved these sorts of movies as kids and now they’ve made this sort of movie for kids today, only it’s even more violent and booblicious and way more vulgar than any of the ones that inspired them. I’m sure it will delight those young, impressionable horny minds, though I’m not sure “Your Highness” will strike as deep a resonant chord with anyone else.

McBride plays Thadeous, a medieval prince living in the shadow of his cooler, braver brother Fabious (James Franco). I want to call Thadeous a classic McBride hero in the mold of his characters from “The Foot Fist Way” and “Eastbound and Down” but he’s missing a key ingredient. Thadeous bears McBride’s standard narcissism, laziness, and foul mouth, but he lacks the sinister core of sexism, cruelty, and hardness that makes Fred Simmons and Kenny Powers more complicated than buffoons. In other words, Thadeous is a buffoon, albeit an occasionally amusing one.

Fabious’ bride-to-be Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) is kidnapped by an evil, horny wizard named Leezar (Justin Theroux) so it’s up to the two brothers to quest for the magical weapons they’ll need to rescue her. Along the way there are wizards to smoke “herbs” with, bare-breasted Amazon hordes to ogle, and many MANY dick jokes to crack, some so visually prolonged and — well “ballsy” isn’t quite the right word given the context, but whatever you want to call them they’re so insane and in your face that you can’t believe the movie managed to sneak through the ratings board with an R.

Someone who enjoyed “Your Highness” more than I did will probably argue that it’s a filthy-minded, potty-mouthed parody of the immaturity of those old school fantasy films and there is definitely some evidence to support that argument. Pettiness in a world of chivalry is pretty funny, and there is some real pettiness on display here: one villain turns to the dark side because he was passed over for the position of Best Man at a wedding. It is sort of charming to watch the bloated self-importance of period films get deflated by an avalanche of profanity. But you can only pop a balloon so many times until you’re just poking a pin into a flabby, shriveled piece of rubber. Green and McBride take the stuffing out of these movies, but they don’t put a whole lot back in except a lot of variations on the eff word.

Though I’m typically a huge McBride fan, stripped of his dark side because of what may have been this multimillion dollar production about minotaur penises’ one concession to a mainstream audience, he isn’t quite the same. So I found myself more drawn to his supporting cast, particularly the hysterical Theroux as the sexually frustrated sorcerer. When you get right down to it, Leezar isn’t all that different than Thadeous: powerful but impotent with women, jealous of James Franco’s awesome hair, and pitifully lonely. If he wasn’t so hellbent on raping Belladonna to impregnate her with a dragon fetus, he wouldn’t be such a bad guy, and that’s how Theroux plays him: sinister but also kind of pathetic (sample Leezar pickup line: “I’m rich, I live in a castle, and I do fucking magic!”).

Natalie Portman’s good too as the first Best Actress Oscar winner to immediately follow her award winning performance with a medieval stoner flick where she makes jokes about her vagina. She plays Isabel, a lone warrior questing across the countryside in search of revenge for the slaughter of her family. To appease that 13-year-old boy audience she also has a scene where she bathes in a thong, and if any thong bathing scene ever deserved to be discussed in the same paragraph as the words “Oscar winner,” it is this one. The biggest waste of a cast member is Deschanel, who has a really great comedic setup for a character — Belladonna has spent her entire life locked up in a tower which has made her incredibly stupid — but almost zero opportunities to pay it off.

I have to admit, as an admirer of its filmmakers, “Your Highness” disappointed me. I laughed, even laughed hard a few times, but I also sat quietly for long stretches. The extreme to which Green, McBride, and co-writer Ben Best went to send-up these sword and sorcery films of their youth is kind of incredible. McBride’s character aside, they made very few concessions to whitebread moviegoer tastes. But maybe they went a little too far pleasing their inner 12-year-olds. My inner 12-year-old was amused. My outer 30-year-old wanted a little bit more.

Neurotica_105_MPX-1920×1080

New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

Posted by on

Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

IFC_CC_Neurotica_Series_Image4

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

Neurotica_series_image_1

IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

via GIPHY

Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

via GIPHY

And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

PL_409_MPX-1920×1080

Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

via GIPHY

Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

via GIPHY

Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

via GIPHY

Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

via GIPHY

Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

via GIPHY

If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.