Judge: “Somebody has to take the blame for Your Highness. It’s too awful to just ignore or wave off. Pledges of allegiance to basic cinematic-craft standards have to be asserted, and one or two people have to be punished for the good of the community. I’m sorry but sometimes these things have to be done.
“I’ll never believe that former Moviefone editor-in-chief Patricia Chui wrote that incredibly stupid and arrogant letter to AOL freelancers on her own volition, but she had to be whacked for it all the same — same principle here. And I think I’m being liberal by demanding that only two transgressors suffer.”
Public Defender: “Thank you, your honor, and you are indeed being very reasonable and in fact generous. In anticipation of your honor’s position the defense has already decided upon two names that we hope will meet with your honor’s approval. We’re presuming you agree with the civilized world-at-large that Your Highness star and co-author of the screenplay Danny McBride should pay the penalty rather than director David Gordon Green, who, we believe, was led astray by friendship or….let’s not get into motivation. But we do ask that McBride’s term in movie jail be kept to 24 months, your honor. He’s been funny before and will be funny again. He just can’t be allowed to write a script ever again.”
Judge: “Aahh, but how do you guarantee McBride won’t write another script that gets produced? Who’s to stop him? The same Universal executive or executives who supported and allied themselves with Your Highness could call him during his term in prison and urge him to write another screenplay or two, and when he gets out of jail….wham, another basic violation. No, we have to go farther — we have to enforce the law in a way that will guarantee observance and respect. We have to punish not only McBride but the Universal executives who approved and funded this movie. There may well have been several involved but we’re going to choose one.”
Public Defender: “But your honor, production executives don’t go to movie jail. It’s talent that does that. Movie executives just keep on workin’, truckin’ and enjoyin’ the dough and the perks.”
Judge: “The Universal executive who is finally selected will have to submit to some form of public corporal punishment. Some sort of symbolic humiliation on a twice-weekly basis, let’s say. We have to think creatively about this. Perhaps submitting to a wooden stockade during lunch twice a week? Or a punishment like Eduardo Saverin’s in The Social Network, ordered to carry around a chicken or a rooster, let’s say, and feed it at all hours?”
“McBride and Green were attempting a deconstruction, in fact a stock-car demolition, of movie competence,” Time‘s Richard Corliss has written. “I mean, adhering to all those standards of quality, coherence, invention — that’s just what The Man wants you to do. Renouncing the silly rules of film craft established over the past century, they have started from scratch, reinventing the wheel by making it rectangular, then blithely propelling it down a hill. The clattering crash you hear is the sound of Your Highness arriving at a theater near you.
“A failed movie is easy to spot; three or four new ones are delivered like dead mackerel to the multiplex each week. But occasionally curious moviegoers will discover an especially rotten specimen of the genus Cinema stinkibus. Entering the theater with low or no expectations, they’ll stumble upon a film of such numbing incompetence that they are forced to realize it’s not just a bad movie but the bad movie — a work of ur-awfulness, counterbrilliance and antigenius.”