The standard story of Robin Hood: Evil Prince John is oppressing the people while good King Richard is away on the Crusades. Robin steals from the tax collectors, wins an archery contest, defeats the Sheriff, and rescues Maid Marian. In this version, however, Mel Brooks adds his own personal touch, parodying traditional adventure films, romance films, and the whole idea of men running around the woods in tights. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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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