Ahh, it has been a while since I have watched a Mel Brooks movie for this blog. Come to think of it, it has been almost 3 years since I watched one. Well obviously that can only mean one thing; I need to get with it an buy some more Mel Brooks movies. Back in the day, Mel Brooks was pretty much the man you wanted to spoof your movies because they are always incredibly funny. Say what you will, but the man was a comic genius, and one of the few people to win all four major awards (Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, Tony). So lets have some laughs with one of his last movies, Robin Hood: Men In Tights.
The plot: Robin of Loxley has been captured during the Crusades and taken to Khalil Prison in Jerusalem. The prison guards question him as to the whereabouts of King Richard but when he refuses to answer, he is chained to a bench next to another prisoner, Asneeze. When Robin says it will take a great feat of strength to free themselves, Asneeze says that they now have a great strength of feet, and with Robin’s help, they are able to kick the bar free that holds their chains. The guard hears the commotion and questions them about it and they manage to convince him that Robin is going to reveal where the king is. When the guard leaves, Robin and Asneeze quickly free the other prisoners and they all escape out a nearby window. As they are standing on the coast, Robin thanks Asneeze and says he is in his debt and Asneeze asks that Robin find his son Ahchoo, who is an exchange student in England, and look after him. Robin agrees and after starting to make a long winded speech, which Asneeze interrupts and tells him he must leave, Robin begins swimming towards England. When he reaches England, Robin changes clothes and heads towards his family’s castle when he runs into Ahchoo being assaulted by some soldiers. Robin steps in and with Ahchoo’s help, he beats the soldiers and sends them running. Robin and Ahchoo head towards Loxley Castle, arriving there just as it is being repossessed for back taxes. Seeing his family’s blind servant Blinkin amid the debris, Robin questions him about what happened and learned that his entire family is dead. Suddenly, a young boy runs screaming towards them, being chased by the Sheriff of Rottingham and his men. When Rottingham learns who Robin is, he moves to confront him but his sword breaks at the hilt and Robin easily cuts part of the Rottingham’s saddle, causing Rottingham to slide underneath the horse, then Robin sends the horse off, with the Rottingham’s men following after it. Rottingham goes to the castle to see Prince John and tell him the news about Robin, which upsets Prince John. Prince John decides to go and see Latrine to see if she can predict his future but she tells him he is merely his cook. Latrine offers to whip up a potion that would make Robin unable to perform the simplest of tasks in exchange for his putting in a good word with Rottingham, as she is in love with him. Prince John refuses at first but quickly changes his mind and recommends they get Rottingham really drunk. Back in the forest, Robin, Ahchoo, and Blinkin come to a bridge guarded by a man named Little John. When Robin accepts his challenge to a fight, Ahchoo tries to talk him out of it, showing that the stream is not that big, but Robin insists it is the principle of the matter. As the two men fight, the repeatedly break their staffs in half and Robin eventually wins, then saves Little John from drowning in the puddle of water he fell into. Little John introduces them to Will Scarlet O’Hara, who is skilled with a pair of knives. Robin tells them that he plans to end Prince John and Rottingham’s reign of terror, then goes alone to a party that they are having at the castle. At the castle, Robin crashes the party, dropping a wild pig onto the table in front of Prince John. His actions attract the attention of Maid Marian and Robin starts to flirt with her, which angers Rottingham as he also has romantic intentions towards her. When Rottingham challenges Robin to a duel, Robin accepts but Rottingham quickly brings out his men to start fighting. When they get the upper hand after Robin accidentally drops a chandelier on his head, he is saved by the arrival of Ahchoo and the others. During the fight, Robin ducks under a table to avoid some arrows and finds Marian under there as well and the two are about to kiss when they are interrupted. Rottingham orders the door barred and has a horde of knights surround the room, trapping Robin and his men inside but Robin swings down from a rope and proceeds to knock down the knights like dominoes, then has Little John take care of the door and they quickly make their escape. Little John sent word to have the villages send their best men to join the cause and Robin tries to inspire them but ends up putting them to sleep so Ahchoo, mimicking Malcolm X, speaks to them and is able to get them inspired to fight. Robin begins training them to fight but is worried when they show no progress. Some time later, Robin and his Merry Men encounter Rabbi Tuckman, a purveyor of sacramental wine and mohel extraordinaire, who tries to convince the men to get a circumcision but when they find out what it entails, they quickly decline. When Robin asks if he will join them, Tuckman agrees and the Merry Men all cheer when he lets them have the wine. Back at the castle, Rottingham is meeting with Don Giovanni and his associates, Dirty Ezio and Filthy Luca, and they come up with a plan to lure Robin to the fair with an archery contest, where Don Giovanni says that Luca will win and after Robin loses, Ezio will kill Robin with his crossbow. As they laugh in celebration of their plan, Marian overhears them and leaves with her lady-in-waiting, Broomhilde, and they head off to Sherwood Forest to warn Robin. When they reach Robin’s camp, Marian warns Robin about the assassination plot and he agrees not to go until he hears about the archery contest. Robin and Marian go for a walk, where Robin serenades Marian, much to the amusement of the Merry Men, and the talk some, where Marian reveals to him that she is wearing a chastity belt but says the one intended for her will have the key to “unlock her virginity.” The next day, Robin disguises himself as an old man while Ahchoo, Blinkin, Little John, and Will Scarlet are disguised as women. Robin enters the archery contest and winds up in the finals against Filthy Luca. When Robin makes his shot, Rottingham calls him out and Robin reveals himself to the delight of the crowd. Filthy Luca takes his shot and splits Robin’s arrow in two, causing the crowd to turn against Robin as Robin stares in disbelief. Ahchoo and the others head to Robin’s side, where Robin quickly grabs the script and reveals that he gets another shot. Prince John and Rottingham pull out their own copies and confirm that Robin gets another shot and Rottingham quickly signals Ezio, who is up in the Royal Folio Depository, to take his shot but Blinkin miraculously plucks the crossbow bolt out of the air before it hits Robin, saying “I heard that coming a mile away.” Robin pulls out a Patriot Arrow and gets ready to take his shot but Luca uses his bow to hit Robin in the back of the knee, causing the arrow to fire straight up. As Little John knocks out Luca, the arrow comes down and, after passing underneath the stands (and making everyone inadvertently do the wave), it circles around the target before smashing through the bullseye. Robin is declared the winner but Rottingham quickly orders him to be arrested. Marian begs Rottingham to spare Robin, saying she will marry him if he lets Robin live. The Merry Men realize they are outnumbered and send word via fox to the villagers, then quickly change into their tights. As Prince John escorts Marian down for the ceremony, she is horrified to find that Rottingham has Robin set to be hanged if she changes her mind. The Abbot proceeds with the ceremony but when he asks Marian if she takes Rottingham as her husband, Ahchoo fires and arrow that severs the noose and she says no. The villagers arrive to help fight Rottingham’s men but Rottingham grabs Marian and takes her up to the tower. Inside, he prepares to ravish her but is stopped by her chastity belt. Robin shows up as Rottingham is trying to remove the belt and the two proceed to fight. During the fight, Rottingham uses a dagger to try and stab Robin but it ends up ripping his locket off. The locket breaks open on the ceiling, revealing a key, which falls into the lock of the chastity belt. Marian exclaims that this means he was always her one true love because it’s just the right size. Robin and Rottingham continue their fight and Robin wins, then accidentally impales Rottingham when Rottingham attempts to stab him in the back. As Rottingham lies dying on the floor, Latrine rushes in and says she has a magic pill that will save his life and Rottingham reluctantly accepts but after he is healed, he regrets his decision. Robin leads Marian back to the bed and, with her guiding his hand, prepares to unlock the chastity belt but Broomhilde bursts into the tower and yells at them to stop, saying they can’t do it until they are married. Robin and Marian quickly find Rabbi Tuckman to perform the ceremony but before he can finish, King Richard arrives and tells them to stop. Richard first addresses Prince John, telling him he is unfit to wear the crown and, due to his surrounding his given name with a foul stench, orders all the toilets in the name to be called Johns before ordering Prince John to be taken to the tower. Richard then thanks Robin for all that he has done and restores his family name, title, and lands before he knights him. When Tuckman asks why Richard doesn’t want Robin to marry Marian, Richard exclaims that he hasn’t kissed the bride yet, as it is his right, and proceeds to give Marian a deep kiss. Tuckman marries Robin and Marian and after they kiss in front of the crowd, Robin names Ahchoo the new sheriff of Rottingham and when the crowd reacts in shock at a black sheriff, Ahchoo tells them that it worked in Blazing Saddles. Robin and Marian head off to Locksley Hall and prepare to consummate their marriage but Robin says they key won’t turn, much to Marian’s displeasure, but Robin gets an idea and calls out for a locksmith.
Robin Hood: Men In Tights met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics that liked it praised Cary Elwes performance and thought it was a worthy entry into Brook’s repertoire while those that hated it felt like it was one of his worst entries. While the movie was mainly a spoof of Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, it also borrowed some elements from Disney’s Robin Hood as well as Errol Flynn’s The Adventures Of Robin Hood. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $35.7 million off of a $20 million budget, but Mel Brooks has said that it is one of his two top selling DVD’s, with the other one being Spaceballs.
This is such a funny movie to watch and one of my favorite Mel Brook’s parodies. The acting was great, with Cary Elwes doing a good job as Robin while a debuting Dave Chappelle (Ahchoo) gave everyone a preview of the comedic timing he would later be known for. The story was good, with a great mixture of comedy and musical bits to make for some entertaining viewing. The spoofing of Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves was great, especially Cary Elwes calling out the lack of an accent in Kevin Costner’s portrayal, and I thought it was even funnier because Elwes was offered the part in Prince Of Thieves and turned it down. The comedy was a great mixture of slapstick and play on words and had me laughing almost the entire movie. Definitely one of Mel Brook’s greats and well worth watching if you ever need a laugh.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5