Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)

Genre: Comedy and Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 44 min.

Release Date: July 28th, 1993 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Mel Brooks Actors: Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis, Roger Rees, Amy Yasbeck, Mark Blankfield, Dave Chappelle, Isaac Hayes, Tracey Ullman

 


 

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pening not only with a specific breaking of the fourth wall (the first of many) to suggest that the title sequence design harms an innocent village, but this latest Mel Brooks spoof also begins with a spectacularly funny rap to set up the premise – which, of course, is certainly well known. “Impertinent English dog!” Robin Hood (Cary Elwes) is captured during the Crusades and sent to Khalil Prison in Jerusalem, but his imprisonment is short-lived. Within the span of a few minutes, he breaks free with the help of fellow prisoner Asneeze (Isaac Hayes).

“What part of Georgia are you from?” Swimming all the way back to Britannia, Robin locates Ahchoo (Dave Chappelle), who is sure to help him in his quest to free England from the tyranny of Prince John (Richard Lewis) and his tongue-tied, inept stooge, the Sheriff of Rottingham (Roger Rees) – as well as his tower-dwelling, potion-concocting witch Latrine (Tracey Ullman). But first, Robin visits his home, Loxley Hall (which is promptly hauled away due to owed back taxes), where he’ll recruit his family’s loyal, blind servant Blinkin (Mark Blankfield), before discovering the fair maiden Marian (Amy Yasbeck) in need of rescuing, and joining forces with the merry men of Sherwood forest, led by Little John (Eric Allan Kramer) and Will Scarlet O’Hara (Matthew Porretta).

Perhaps more than writer/producer/director/star Mel Brooks’ other parodies, “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” revels in ridiculous anachronisms and off-topic gags. Hilariously, Chappelle’s entire performance never bothers to conform to any rules of the era. Lewis similarly strays from authenticity, though he remains in a suitable costume, surrounded by armored knights and appropriately decorated castle settings. Interestingly, Elwes isn’t as unfitting, since his persona reminds of “The Princess Bride,” even though that role was partly comedic, while the nonstop jokes can’t help but to recall “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” the grandfather of Middle Ages send-ups. The film also, obviously, follows the basic events of “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (more so than other adaptations of the classic folklore), a major box-office success deserving of a timely, goofy takeoff.

“Prepare for the fight scene!” In line with Brooks’ other comedies, this over-the-top imitation features musical numbers, nonsensical asides, crossdressing, Jewish wisecracks, cameos by comedy regulars (notably Dom DeLuise and Dick Van Patten), references to Brooks’ other pictures, and plenty of sexual innuendos. It also boasts large-scale action sequences, even if the combat isn’t terribly convincing. Unfortunately, though it’s consistently amusing (yet largely toothless in its originality and edge), there isn’t a wealth of laugh-out-loud moments (the mischief here is mostly one-liners and littler shenanigans), making it marginally less entertaining than its immediate predecessors (including “High Anxiety” and “Spaceballs”).

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10