Reviewer: Hannah Price
For centuries people have told and retold the legendary stories of Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men. There are many different variations, but never before has there been such a telling as Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
England is in an uproar. During the king’s absence, Prince John (Richard Lewis) has taken over his brother King Richard’s throne. The people need a hero to save them from their tyrant leader’s oppression, someone like Robin Hood (Cary Elwes). But where is Robin Hood during all of this upheaval? Fighting with King Richard (Patrick Stewart) in the crusades, thousands of miles away in the Holy Land. At the end of the crusades, Robin is captured and is imprisoned in a Jerusalem dungeon. But chains and stone walls won’t hold Robin Hood! He quickly escapes with the aid of a native man named A’Sneeze (Isaac Hayes). In return for his help, Robin promises to help A’Sneeze’s son, Achoo, an exchange student in England. When Robin returns to his native homeland, he finds things much changed from the time when he had left. His mother, father and brothers are all dead, and his family’s castle home is being confiscated due to unpaid taxes. Robin is distressed but vows to restore his family’s honor, and their house.
With the help of his family’s loyal but blind servant Blink’in (Mark Blankfield), Robin locates Achoo (Dave Chappelle) and begins to assemble of force of loyal men to help him fight Prince John and his right hand man, the Sheriff of Rottingham (Roger Rees). If you like parodies and enjoy a good comedy, this is the perfect film for you. This movie is filled with great humor, memorable characters and a cast of well-known actors. The score is wonderful, although almost entirely borrowed from another Mel Brooks film. The costume design, special effects, cinematography and set design were all quite good, and the actors were very funny. I enjoyed watching Cary Elwes as Robin Hood, because he greatly impressed me in The Princess Bride and showed that he can do comedy just as well as drama in Lady Jane. One of the best comical elements to the film was backwards-speaking Richard Rees as the evil Sheriff. The way he said his lines was hilarious!
With such good elements going for it, it is a shame that sexual innuendo and brief language make it unsuitable for family viewing. Sexual elements are the film’s biggest problem, and although nothing graphic is ever shown, the film would have been better off without the inappropriate content. The virgin Maid Marian (Robin Hood’s love interest) and her chastity belt are the source of much of the innuendo. We see grand views of the belt on several occasions, along with quite a bit of skin. (For example, the sheriff, intending to rape her, carries her into a bedroom, tears open her dress, and then takes a power drill to the lock on her belt to try and get it off.) Blink’in, Robin’s blind servant, leafs through a Braille magazine, and on a foldout is the raised image of a nude woman. Blink’in feels the breasts of this raised image and soon after embraces a nude statue and fondles its breasts. Numerous other innuendos are scattered throughout the film, including references to circumcision, male anatomy, and extreme glimpses of female cleavage. Language is minimal, but includes about a dozen combined uses of s***, d***, p***ed off, and one or two British vulgarities. Violence is comprised of fistfights, swordfights and beatings, but all are comical and played for laughs.
I greatly enjoyed this film for its humor, even if it is a bit silly at times. It was an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours, but the negative content made me wary of showing it to my younger siblings. If edited, this film would be appropriate for all ages and a great way to spend an evening with the family. But for teens and adults, it is a fun movie to pick up when you are in the mood for a few good laughs.