Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)

by | Mar 24, 2024 | 1990s, Adventure, Comedy, Film Reviews | 0 comments

Mel Brooks Hits the Bullseye with Hilarious Robin Hood Spoof

 

Release date: 28 July 1993 (USA)
Genre: Comedy/Adventure
Director: Mel Brooks
Cinematographer: Michael D. O’Shea
Budget: $20 million USD
Box office: $72 million USD

 

4 MIN Read Time

 

“Because, unlike some other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent.” – Robin Hood (played by Cary Elwes)

 

Mel Brooks, the comedic mastermind behind classics like Blazing Saddles and Spaceballs, turned his sharp wit to the legend of Robin Hood in 1993’s Robin Hood: Men in Tights. This side-splitting spoof isn’t just for fans of the swashbuckling hero; it’s a hilarious romp through the genre itself, loaded with pop culture references, groan-worthy puns, and an all-star cast that throws themselves wholeheartedly into the absurdity.

The story follows Robin of Loxley (Cary Elwes), a man mistakenly executed (don’t worry, it’s all part of the plan) who escapes from the clutches of evil Prince John (Richard Lewis) and returns to a Sherwood Forest overrun with bumbling officials and excessively merry men. Reuniting with his loyal (and nearsighted) confidant Blinkin (Mark Blankfield) and recruiting the reluctant but talented archer Will Scarlett (Matthew Porretta), Robin sets out to woo the beautiful Maid Marian (Amy Yasbeck) and, of course, steal from the rich to give to the poor.

While the core Robin Hood plot provides a loose framework, Brooks and his co-writers Evan Chandler and J. David Shapiro use it as a springboard for comedic chaos. The film is packed with sight gags, slapstick humour, and dialogue that’s both clever and delightfully cheesy. Fans of classic Robin Hood films will find plenty to chuckle at, with Brooks taking aim at the often-exaggerated nobility and historical inaccuracies. One particularly funny scene reimagines the iconic archery tournament where Robin Hood splits an arrow with his own. Here, however, Robin launches a baguette instead, much to the confusion of the crowd.

The cast is in top form, delivering Brooks’ zany lines with perfect comedic timing. Elwes brings a charming goofiness to Robin, perfectly capturing the character’s misplaced confidence and obliviousness. Lewis is deliciously villainous as the scenery-chewing Prince John, his portrayal is a send-up of Kevin Costner’s overly serious performance in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, released just two years prior. A scene-stealing performance comes from newcomer Dave Chappelle as Achoo, a reluctant (and allergy-prone) member of Robin’s band of Merry Men.

A Symphony of Spoof: From Nods to History to Pop Culture

Robin Hood: Men in Tights isn’t just a parody of the Robin Hood legend; it’s a hilarious commentary on the entire genre of historical epics. Brooks throws in anachronistic gags with glee, from Robin’s men using rubber chickens as weapons to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference to the Watergate scandal. The film also winks at pop culture of the time, with a hilarious Godfather spoof complete with a horse head in Prince John’s bed.

The historical inaccuracies are a constant source of amusement. Robin’s supposed nobility is hilariously undermined by his complete lack of knowledge about hygiene or proper etiquette. In one scene, he attempts to serenade Maid Marian with a song about his “raging impotence,” a far cry from the typical chivalrous hero.

A Stellar Cast Perfectly Delivers the Mel Brooks Formula

While some might find the constant barrage of jokes overwhelming, Robin Hood: Men in Tights thrives on its commitment to the bit. The film’s humour isn’t for everyone, but for those who appreciate Brooks’ brand of wacky comedy, it’s a laugh-out-loud riot. Even the opening credits sequence, featuring flaming arrows raining down on unsuspecting villagers, sets the tone for the film’s gleefully irreverent approach.

Production trivia adds another layer of enjoyment for film buffs. According to interviews, Brooks had originally wanted to cast Patrick Stewart as Robin, but scheduling conflicts led to Elwes landing the role. The film also features a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Dom DeLuise, a frequent collaborator of Brooks. Sharp-eyed viewers might also catch a young Tracey Ullman in a small role.

A Box Office Blip, But a Cult Classic Endures

Despite its critical acclaim, Robin Hood: Men in Tights wasn’t a box office smash hit. Opening just a few weeks after Jurassic Park, it faced stiff competition. However, the film found a devoted following on home video, solidifying its place as a cult classic.

Robin Hood: Men in Tights might not be a traditional Robin Hood story, but it’s a hilarious and surprisingly clever send-up of the genre. With its all-star cast, relentless jokes, and an abundance of Mel Brooks’ signature humour, this film is a must-watch for anyone looking for a good laugh.

My Rating: 8/10

 

 

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