Your Highness (15) * *

Natalie Portman as Isobel in Your Highness
Natalie Portman as Isobel in Your Highness
Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev, Jeffrey Tambor as Georgy Malenkov, Adrian McLoughlin as Joseph Stalin, Dermot Crowley as Lazat Kaganovich, Paul Chahidi as Nikolai Bulganin, Paul Whitehouse as Anastas Mikoyan and Simon Russell Beale as Lavrentiy Beria.

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Vulgar, puerile and relentlessly potty-mouthed – and those are the chief selling points of Your Highness – David Gordon Green’s olde worlde tale of good versus evil is as cheerless and charmless as they come.

Co-written by leading man Danny McBride and Ben Best, this crass comedy begs obvious comparisons with the 1987 cult classic The Princess Bride by poking fun at fairytale conventions.

Certainly, there are no Happy Ever Afters for us, having to endure a slurry of obscenities that leaves us craving a shower to wash off the filth as soon as we leave the cinema.

If the humour was saucy or even bawdy with a modicum of wit, then the occasional foray into gross-out territory would be easier to swallow.

Unfortunately, the script has a one-track mind and strains at the breeches with chauvinistic quips, reducing virtually all of the female characters to simpering wenches with heaving cleavages.

Homosexuality and paedophilia are verily tossed into the mix, the latter subject milked dry with a visit to the Great Wize Wizard (Mario Torres Jr), who provides advice to gallant heroes so long as they touch his wand.

‘Prepare thyself for one twisted tale...’ boldly proclaims the opening narration.

Prince Thadeous (McBride) has always laboured in the shadow of his handsome and gallant brother, Prince Fabious (James Franco), who is – unsurprisingly – the favourite of their father (Charles Dance) and the lusty maidens of the realm.

Fabious returns from yet another quest with beautiful Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) on his arm, who he intends to marry.

Oh woe! Dastardly sorcerer Leezar (Justin Theroux) kidnaps the bride-to-be and spirits her away to his castle lair.

Distraught groom-to-be Fabious gives chase with loyal lieges Boremont (Damian Lewis) and Julie (Toby Jones), plus Thadeous begrudgingly in tow.

The brothers encounter weird and wonderful characters along the way including sexy warrior Isabel (Natalie Portman), who is unfathomably attracted to overweight and clumsy Thadeous.

Considering the calibre of talent in front of the camera, including this year’s Best Actress Oscar winner Portman and Best Actor nominee Franco, you could be forgiven for expecting a film of substance.

Evidently, the two stars wanted something dumb and vacuous after the emotional rigours of Black Swan and 127 Hours. McBride and Franco don’t convince us they could have emerged from the same gene pool.

Portman employs all of her acting skills to hide the revulsion that Isabel would surely feel for Thadeous, who kills a minotaur and wears its severed appendage around his neck as a trophy.

A horse and carriage chase through a forest is the only sequence of any note for director Green, who fails miserably to repeat the success of the equally ludicrous yet rather endearing Pineapple Express.