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Robin Hood is personally one of my favorite Disney movies of all time,
it's one of those animated films that gets over looked or over shadowed
by other Disney classics, I wish it did get more notice. The animation
is great and just has that old feel to it when animators used to draw
the pictures, it feels more personal and special that way. Not to
mention that this was a great adaptation of the Robin Hood story for
the kids. Even as an adult I still enjoy watching this movie, it's
funny, romantic, touching, and just very entertaining to watch. How
could you not love Prince John? He is one of Disney's most awesome and
hilarious villains of all time! Granted I know this film can come off
as a little corny, but seriously give this movie a chance, it's one of
Disney's buried treasures.
The story begins as Robin Hood and Little John run from the Sheriff of Nottingham, who has ambushed them with a team of archers. After narrowly escaping, Robin Hood and Little John happen upon the royal entourage which is taking Prince John and his counselor, Sir Hiss, to Nottingham in order to tax the people there. Disguised as female fortune-tellers, Robin and Little John effectively steal all the gold they can carry and run off into the forest, leaving Prince John sucking his thumb in humiliation. In Nottingham, Robin uses Friar Tuck to smuggle the stolen gold back to the peasants. Later Robin sees Maid Marian, she and Robin had once been sweethearts as children, but were forced to part ways when she moved to London. But she is mistaken: Robin can't stop thinking about her. But since Robin is an outlaw he and Marian wait for marriage. Seething with rage, that Robin is winning, John triples the taxes, making the bleak situation in Nottingham even worse. One night, Robin Hood, disguised again as the beggar, learns that Friar Tuck is in jail and will rescue him, save Nottingham once and for all and give Prince John the justice that has been coming to him for a long time.
I can't tell you how much I love this film, I think my favorite scene will always be the archery scene. Robin Hood learns that there is an archery contest and the winner gets a kiss from Maid Marian, so he enters and goes in a disguise, and Little John had his back the whole time while getting Prince John to lighten up about Robin being in the contest. I also love Prince John's side kick, Sir Hiss, he's the perfect little sleaze bag tattle tail and we go in Tom and Jerry classic mode when Prince John has it with him and just ties Hiss's body in a knot. This is a terrific Disney movie, just trust me when I say that it's a lot of fun to watch and just enjoy it, we don't get films like this any more.
It is strange how many people damn the Disney version of "Robin Hood" for rough and repetitious animation, one-dimensional characters, and weak pacing. After all, A LOT of animated films suffer from this syndrome, even "landmark" productions like "Anastasia" and "Shrek." The characters are stereotypes, but they act believably: Prince John is silly, but with a truly evil undercurrent ("Squeeze every last drop out of those insolent...musical...peasants."), the Sheriff is deliciously nasty ("Upsy-daisy"), and Robin Hood is very affable. The music is, quite simply, fantastic. "Not in Nottingham" is easily the best Disney song ever (barring "When She Loved Me" in Toy Story 2), the opening theme and song are catchy and appropriate for the movie's tone, and the movie's action scenes are clever, chaotic, and action-packed but not gory. This is a movie you can show your kids without being embarrassed upon seeing that the movie is one long commercial for action figures and plush toys.
I loved this movie as a kid, as did just about every person I know. So
it works for the youngins. As an adult, and an animation fan, I was
surprised to learn that this movie is sort of the Disney studio's
secret shame. I had nothing but fond memories of it, after all. And I
could name at least a dozen Disney films that I would have put ahead of
it on my Most Crappy list. I very recently watched it on television
after many years, and yes, it is definitely flawed. The quality of the
animation is terrible, and the lack of an over arching story makes the
whole thing seem frivolous, like it was made for TV and not for a big
studio release. There are holes in the narrative, scenes that should
exist that don't, and scenes that have no reason to exist that do. And
I think the somewhat random decision to cast the film with animals
lends to the Saturday morning vibe as well.
But there's enough cool things peaking out from under all the half-assery that rescues the film just enough for it to be enjoyable. Peter Ustinov turns in an excellent, excellent performance as Prince John, at turns hysterical and genuinely nasty. Brian Bedford oozes easy going charm as Robin. He's probably turned in the second most likable performance of the character captured on film. He's just unfortunately delivering it through the poorly animated mouth of a cartoon fox. And though the actual quality of the animation is poor, some of the character animation is pretty clever and expressive. And I have to applaud the choice to add Roger Miller to the mix as a folkie, possibly pot-smoking minstrel rooster. His character adds a cool, Earthy vibe to the proceedings and as others have mentioned, his song, Not in Nottingham, actually sort of works as a blues song. Weird.
So Robin Hood is definitely not the epic tale Disney was capable of churning out in its hey days, but I dug it as a kid, and I still dig it today. You know, looking back at all my reviews on this site, it seems I mostly leap to the defense of classically bad films that I like anyway. That's OK, I guess. Someone has to.
I've watched this video so many times, I can no longer count, and every
time, I wind up laughing my head off! I really think this is one of the
most underrated Disney movies out there.
This version of Robin Hood has animals in the roles of the characters, and it works marvelously! It would be natural for Robin Hood to be a fox if he was an animal, for both the fox and Robin are very clever. And if Robin Hood is a fox, naturally, Maid Marian would be a vixen. Also, having Prince John and King Richard as lions are natural choices, since the lion is the King of the Jungle.
What I loved most about the film, as I hinted at earlier, is the humor, most of it provided by Prince John, Sir Hiss (a snake), Trigger, and Nutsy (both vultures). Prince John's habit of sucking his thumb whenever anyone mentions his mother is priceless! And he's so vain it's little trouble for Robin Hood and Little John (a bear) to rob him when they're disguised as fortune-tellers! Sir Hiss is smarter than any of the other bad guys, but the humor with him is that Prince John never believes him until it's too late, and abuses him afterwards. Trigger's "old Betsy" (a crossbow) provides plenty of laughs, especially when it goes off! And Nutsy is so stupid he says "One o'clock and all's well!" when it's three o'clock, and when told to set his brain ahead a couple hours, he doesn't know if he has to add or subtract two hours! That's a scream!
If there's any real fault, it lies in the animation. It is really substandard, and I have noticed reused or inaccurate footage in the film. But it is a minor flaw in the film, and it doesn't take away from my enjoyment of it.
So, rent or buy "Robin Hood" today! It's a scream!
Disney's Robin Hood is my all time favorite Disney animation movie and
right up there with one of my favorite all time movies. I can
practically recite every word from "Robin Hood and Little John Walking
through the Forest" to "There's the church bells someone's gett'n
hitched". Yet it's hardly ever mentioned, it's always been hard to find
and you can never get a poster. The songs are never lauded and they
should be "The Phoney King of England" is a hoot! And even though
"Love" was nominated for an Oscar, it's an obscure fact.
The animation is beautiful! Those scenes of the castle & the church in the rain - you would think it was shot rather than drawn. The dialog is smart with subtleties & wit. The character's motives are seen and not told. It's not dumb down at all for kids. It's more romantic then Lady & The Tramp, Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid combined. And yes, that Fox, Robin Hood himself, voiced by Brian Bedford was and will always be sexy!
I am watching this movie while writing this review, and I still remember every single line. This was, and still is, one of my favorite Disney films of all time. People may have complaints about it, (accents, lack of character depth, story line) but I will always have fond memories of watching this movie. To the people who have complaints about it the movie for various reasons: either relax and enjoy, or don't watch it and leave the people who love this Disney Classic alone. Don't ruin this movie for anyone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've watched Robin Hood since before I could understand language. Even
back then it entertained me, enough for my parents to have to play it
whenever they wanted to keep me out of trouble. One would expect that
anything that can hold the attention of a toddler is not going to have
the same effect on an adult. I am glad to say that it does. I can watch
this film today with the same eagerness, the same enjoyment and the
same suspension of knowledge of what's going to happen. Who could help
doing otherwise? It's first class storytelling.
There are the age-old characters, archetypes as well known as the story itself. In a twist of genius, the tale is set in the animal world. Robin Hood, everyone's hero, brought to magnificent life by a fox and given a dashing yet endearing voice. There's his ladylove, the long-lashed, elegant, eminently lovable Maid Marian, also a fox and just as perfectly voiced. One look at Marian, and it's easy to understand why Robin is so lost in his dreams of her that he ruins the stew he's been stirring.
Prince John, however likable the others, has somehow topped my list. Fittingly chosen to be a mane-less lion (compare his appearance with his brother Richard who has an ample mane), constantly whining for his mother when thwarted and complaining about Richard, he is the best representation of John I've ever seen. One mustn't forget his penchant for alliterating, in especial reference to his much put-upon sidekick/adviser Sir Hiss, a snake. Priceless gems like "Procrastinating Python", "Slithering Serpent" and of course the irresistible "You eel in snake's clothing" can all be heard directed at the pitiable Sir Hiss whenever John is frustrated in his plans to capture the elusive Robin. The unfortunate duo plays off each other very well. It must be said that whoever thought of getting Sir Peter Ustinov to voice the role of P.J. should have been promoted instantly. The late, brilliant Ustinov is greatly missed, but he lives on in his wonderful comedic works. His part here is right up there with his best performances. No one could have done greater justice to the younger brother who (rightly) feels that his governance compares unfavourably with Richard's.
A few other characters deserve to be mentioned. Little John, a bear very reminiscent of Jungle Book's Baloo, is light-hearted, trustworthy and the perfect companion and friend for our Robin. On one occasion early on, they have a great outing together as cross-dressers and use their very believable disguise to steal P.J. for everything he has on him. As for his voice, Little John's carefree American accent works very well alongside the British ones of the others. The lady-in-waiting to Marian, Clucky, is a brave lass and Friar Tuck is a kind old fellow. There are also the kids in the family of rabbits who understandably admire and adore Robin and Marian.
The script is smashing. What with the comedy, the heroic and witty lines for the good guys and the hysterical silliness of the sour villains of the story, this is a winner. It's always fun and never grows tired. The little ditty about Prince John's incompetence that goes around ("too late to be known as John the first, he's sure to be known as John the worst") is very in keeping with the rest of this film's tone. And who can forget the sheer madness of such a line as "I sentence you to sudden, instant and even immediate death", courtesy of Prince John of course.
It's not only comedy, because to top it all off, this film must have the best confession of love ever filmed. Although it works infinitely better when you watch it, I will attempt to sketch it here. Caught, tied up, sentenced and threatened with execution, Robin looks into Marian's expressive eyes and says "Marian my darling, I love you more than life itself". Her emotional response is an equally memorable one to behold. More sweetness inevitably follows in the eventual escape, but I'll leave that for your viewing pleasure.
The film wouldn't be complete without a fitting climax, and to satisfy us all, we've been given a good one. Climbing to the top of a turret, Robin has to leap down into the moat to avoid the fires that are close on his heels. His friends down below look on to see where he surfaces and are dismayed to find Robin appearing nowhere yet, to the delight of Prince John and Sir Hiss. It's a nice tug at the heartstrings. Although initially all hope seems lost, we know that the story isn't finished until the deserving Robin gets to be with his Marian and all's right with Nottingham and England.
Disney surpassed themselves with this one. It's much more than the sum of its parts (voice talent and likable characters, witty script, character designs, plotting). Having watched this a countless number of times in the past, I look forward to continuing to do so.
As above. Don't you ever wonder what the fascist, communist-hating Mr.
Disney would have thought about bringing such an inherently socialist
tale to the silver screen under his life's work's label? I know I do.
Robin Hood quite explicitly makes the rich and royal people of England
out to be total crooks, and the poor workers out to be heroes in a
Marxist fashion. "Stealing from the rich and giving to the needy."
Indeed. The adventurous Sherwood Forest hero Robin Hood who did so was
my very first crush. Luckily, I have since then outgrown my infatuation
for animals. Although I can look back and see that he still is quite
I maintain there are subtle elements of English humour that shine through in Disney's Robin Hood, and maybe that is why I like it so much. It may also be the hysterical comedic sidekicks like Sir Hiss. Whatever it is, this is without a doubt the best story of Robin Hood told on film, even though it's a cartoon aimed for kids. Good songs, good fast-paced action (that archery contest at the medieval fair was genius), interesting characters and nicely animated sets. All the characters have been translated into appropriate and symbolic animals. If you haven't thought about that before, do it next time you watch this film.
Maid Marion is perhaps one of the weakest female Disney characters, but then, they have never been known to be very dimensional or showed much range other than when they are the protagonists (like Ariel), and Marion is not oneshe is a supporting character to the awesome Robin Hood and that is enough for this film.
Robin Hood is Disney film that's stuck with me through the years and its only rival for best Disney film of all time is perhaps Aladdin.
The opening credits present us with all of the animals who will later
in the film (the very same footage, in fact), parading themselves in front
of a white background and a rather catchy tune. We see a fox dressed as
Robin Hood. ROBIN HOOD, reads the credits. And in smaller letters
underneath, in brackets: (a fox). We see a badger in a monk's outfit.
FRIAR TUCK, says the credits. (a bear). I find this highly amusing. I
it. Don't ask me why. I think, though, that it demonstrates two things:
that "Robin Hood" was made under the same cost cutting Disney regime that
made "The Aristocats" three years earlier and "The Rescuers" three years
later; and that it has far more life than both of these films put
It IS the cost-cutting that would damn this film, and it's liveliness that redeems it. (That, and Peter Ustinov's vocal performance as Prince John.) I can't even find it in my heart to condemn the Southern voices scattered throughout Sherwood Forest and Nottingham - replacing a human sheriff with a lupine one is such a violent change that the use of expressions like, "Aw, geez, Nutsy," seems trivial by comparison. At any rate I found the voices far less irritating than Kevin Costner's drawl in HIS version of Robin Hood.
The animation is mostly good but without the stand-out brilliance of, say, "The Jungle Book". There are a few scenes that look as if they belong on television (which is a problem shared with the next five animated features that Disney made). The children are more cloying than usual with Disney and we see too much of them. That's about it with the carping. All in all it's cheerful, it's shameless, it's hard to resist.
Disney's animated "Robin Hood" gets somewhat lost in the shuffle of great animated films from the famed studio, but is still a nice piece of entertainment that tells the popular story well. Good songs and fun situations are the greatest assets here. The film lacks the real drama that makes others of its kind better cinematically. Still a good film for the whole family. 4 stars out of 5.
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