James Franco, Danny McBride & Natalie Portman: honestly, what were you thinking?! I so wanted to like this movie (I’m a big fan of both Franco and McBride) but I simply could find no saving grace. It had a handful of funny lines but was otherwise completely ridiculous. And not in a good, “Dumb & Dumber” kind of way. More like if the guys who wrote “Hot Shots Part Deux” had written “Lord of the Rings.”
The story is faulty enough. McBride and Franco are brothers, sons of the reigning king, but could not be more different. Danny McBride plays Thadeus, a ne’er do well who parties all the time and seduces fair maidens while his brother and heir to the throne, Fabious (Franco, of course), kills evil adversaries and wins the heart of the lovely Belladonna (played by a vapid Zooey Deschanel), whom he rescues from the sorcerer Leezar. Before he can marry her, she is taken captive, again, by Leezar who plans to rape her during a lunar eclipse so they could conceive a dragon (like I said, ridiculous). Thadeus is forced to join his brother on the quest to rescue her, again, and along the way they encounter many trials and tribulations, which, eventually, lead to Thadeus’s growing up and acting like the valiant prince his brother always knew he truly was. I’ll bet you’re racing to the theater now, aren’t you?
Funniest moment: Zooey Deschanel asks her captor (shortly before the aforementioned rape) how he even knows if his penis works. His reply: “I’ve tried it. If your vagina is anything like my hand, there will be no problem.”
Look, I love profanity and crude humor, which are both rampant throughout this flick, but there’s just no compensating for the shit plot and the absurd 80s-style visual effects. (Not enough money for CGI, or a throwback, perhaps? Either way, it didn’t work.) McBride and Franco were their usual charming selves, yet the whole time, I couldn’t help but wonder why the hell they chose to add this film to their resumes. And Natalie Portman, seriously, this is your follow-up to “Black Swan?” (I guess “No Strings Attached” immediately followed “Black Swan,” but still.)
I hate to beat up on it because I certainly have seen worse. But I’ve seen what these guys are capable of – “Eastbound & Down,” “Pineapple Express,” just to name a couple – and I expected better. This time around, they sold themselves far short. I’m still a fan, just a disappointed one.