A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 37 – Robin Hood: Men in Tights

Robin Hood: Men in Tights – April 6, 2010

Oh, Mel Brooks. So many horrible jokes and many of them delivered by the Dread Pirate Roberts, aka Cary Elwes. But hey, why should he hog all the horrible lines? There are tons more cast members to utter terrible puns and dated jokes. And oh man, the dated jokes. The thing is, I love Spaceballs and I’m sure it must have equally dated jokes, but I can’t think of them, whereas Robin Hood has the Arsenio Hall audience reference, the Air Jordans, the Patriot Arrow, Richard Lewis… It just feels like there are a lot of jokes that are referencing not just classic pop culture and the genre the movie is spoofing, but the current cultural touchstones of the time it was made. That’s a risky thing to do and it doesn’t hold up here.

I remember finding this movie a lot funnier when I first saw it, and I’ve stopped on it a few times in recent years when I pass by it on television and the few minutes I stay on it always give me a laugh or two. Alas, watching it from beginning to end just exposes how much the movie lurches from laugh to laugh. The titular song? Fun enough (and a quick peek at the credits informed me that Tyce Diorio, who now choreographs for So You Think You Can Dance, is one of the Merry Men there), but then there’s Marian’s songs, which make me want to go find something else to listen to, like a nice polka. I’m a fan of bad puns, which anyone who’s ever met my family can attest to (holiday dinners usually have at least one pun-off before dessert), so I really do laugh at any joke that’s done with the intention of making the audience groan. But then there are the aforementioned “current” gags, the vast majority of which fall totally flat. Good bits are held away from each other by boring bits which are held away from annoying bits. Which is a real pity.

Now, I do enjoy Cary Elwes as Robin Hood. He clearly enjoyed the role and he gets a lot of good looks and good lines. Dave Chappelle gets a few good lines too, which makes me glad because if he didn’t, all he’d have would be the dated crap. I admit, I enjoy the hell out of the Sheriff of Rottingham, because he, like Elwes’ Robin Hood, is chewing every inch of scenery he comes in contact with. Also, the actor playing him, Roger Rees, is in my favorite version of A Christmas Carol, which I find amusing. Really, it’s kind of bizarre, seeing some obscure faces in this movie. Diorio, Rees, and Corbin Allred, who plays Young Lad, and is also in one of our favorite MST3K episodes (Quest of the Delta Knights). I love when that sort of thing happens, but it doesn’t save the movie from itself. It’s just an amusing coincidence.

I’d say that the movie’s saving grace is the puns and horrible groaners, but really its saving grace is Patrick Stewart’s cameo. Hot damn, do I love Patrick Stewart. He, along with the funny peppered through the movie, make it watchable and amusing in small doses. I mean, I did laugh tonight. But I probably won’t put the DVD in to watch all the way through again any time soon. Maybe just the end for Stewart.

April 6, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Robin Hood: Men in Tights

April 6, 2010

Robin Hood: Men in Tights

We have quit a few Mel Brooks movies in our collection. Today we review what is probably the most phoned-in and disappointing of the lot.

Part of the problem is that this movie is a spoof of the almost notoriously bad Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It’s difficult to make a spoof of a movie that sank like a lead balloon, for the same reason that the folks at MST3K found it easier to riff on movies that took themselves seriously than movies which knew how bad they were. That quite aside from the problem that people watching this movie today probably haven’t seen Prince of Thieves. Because, really, why would you? When spoofing a beloved film like Star Wars or Frankenstein an entire genre like westerns there’s a lot of well established material to make fun of. When you’re spoofing a single forgotten bomb there’s just not much to work with.

And part of the problem is that the movie is so derivative of other Mel Brooks films. Richard Lewis, who plays King John, seems to be doing an impersonation of Gene Wilder. They pay homage to Igor’s hump from Young Frankenstein. There’s the “It’s good to be the King” line from Brief History of the World. And the final joke in the movie is a reference to Blazing Saddles. It feels like Mel is trying too hard.

And one other part of the problem is that the movie doesn’t seem to have an editor. There are a few longish ad-libs (most notably Tracy Ullman and Dom DeLuise) that really could have been cut down a bit. Particularly the extremely long scene with Dom DeLuise where he goes on and on and on with his Marlon Brando impersonation. I mean, who remembers The Freshman?

Lest I give the impression that I think the movie is irredeemably bad let me say that it does have its moments. Most notably Cary Elwes hamming it up as Robin, a pre-Chappelle Show Dave Chappelle who actually does pretty well with what material he’s given (I particularly like his Malcolm X bit.) And of course Patrick Stuart steals the movie with his cameo at the end (a reference to Sean Connery’s cameo at the end of Prince of Thieves.)

It’s just not as good a movie as Mel Brooks’ other films. It doesn’t stand well on its own merits and the jokes feel forced and tired. There are a few laughs and a few good moments, but I’d rather be watching Young Frankenstein. Which I’m sure we will at some point.

April 6, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | Leave a comment