Robin of Locksley, known as the most skilled archer of the land, has just returned to England after fighting in the Holy Crusades, where King Richard the Lionhearted is also fighting. Robin finds that much of what he knew of England has gone to ruin, including his longtime family home having been taken away, all at the hands of the evil Prince John, Richard's brother who has assumed the throne in Richard's absence. Neurotic John is basically being controlled by the equally evil Sheriff of Rottingham, everything they doing to fatten their own coffers at the expense of the commoners and peasants. As such, Robin recruits a band of merry men to help him battle Prince John and the Sheriff, they who include: Blinkin, his blind longtime servant; Ahchoo, the misguided son of Asneeze, the man who helped him escape from prison while fighting in the Crusades; Little John, who seems to think that being called Little is only coincidental to the fact of he being a hulking man; and Little John's ... Written by
this and Spaceballs are Brooks doing his best "family" films
Like many a child born in the 1980's, I grew up on the Mel Brooks films that weren't necessarily the 'racier' ones like Blazing Saddles and History of the World part 1 (I saw those, of course, though not as frequently as now), but the ones meant for the "whole family", Spaceballs, and this film. I knew at the time I wasn't seeing great art, but just a campy, goofy, though always laugh-worthy take on Robin Hood and/or adventure movies. But calling it a family movie in quotes means that a) adults really can enjoy it as much as kids, if not more because of the little in-jokes and silly vulgarities, and b) once a kid sees it, when he revisits it, as I have a few times, it's still as fresh but with some things not quite understood the first time around. It's a comedy that is not only filled with jokes at Robin Hood movies and other movies (Godfather of course, as well as little mentions for other movies of modern times), but one that references Brooks's own movies as well; this is a filmmaker who isn't above poking fun at even his own style.
Basic story- Robin Hood (Cary Elwes in one of his best turns) returns home from the crusades to see things are in peril with King Richard gone, and so goes forth to reclaim his land and to, naturally, rob the rich to feed the poor. Along the way he meets Achoo (Dave Chappelle), butts heads with Prince John (Richard Lewis) and the Sheriff, and of course still pines for the love of Maid Marian. This, of course, is the usual clothesline for Brooks to let the comedy run off into the scenes, and while sometimes a joke may not work or might become stale on a repeat viewing, so much of it sticks that it's hard not to chuckle. It also helps that a couple of bits are some of the best in any Brooksfilm, such as the Godfather bit (Dom DeLouise at his very best), Brooks's own cameo as the Rabbbi, Lewis and Chappelle's acting turns, and an endless slew of quotable lines and a couple of tongue-in-cheek songs. Some of it is obvious, yes, some of it just takes right from the pages of Blazing Saddles, sure, but is it a good time for the right crowd? Definitely- and for parents who grew up on the 70's Brooks work, it is a fantastic way to introduce the young ones to his work through this (even the suggestive sex jokes and such are not R-rated, all in good fun).
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