- Produced, Co-Written, and Directed by Mel Brooks
- July 28, 1993 (US) / December 17, 1993 (UK)
Robin of Loxley must stop Prince John and the Sheriff of Rottingham to save the kingdom and win the hand of Maid Marian of Bagelle. Loxley and Bagelle. They were meant to be together!
Another comedy classic from one of the greats of film comedy! Robin Hood: Men in Tights is just a fun and silly movie which is the kind Mel Brooks excelled at. He was a master of juvenile humor in his day. Many have tried since, but few have approached his level of skill. The tagline for the movie is ‘The legend had it coming’ but this is as much aimed at the Robin Hood myth as it is the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves as well as a handful of other Robin Hood movies and a smattering of other movies too. In a fourth wall breaking moment Robin (Cary Elwes) looks directly at the camera and states that he can actually speak in an English accent which is a direct jab at Kevin Costner. There is another film JFK alluded to during the archery contest when the individual tasked with killing Robin Hood is in the Royal Folio Depository. A bit on the nose but also rather funny.
In any Mel Brooks movie there are silly jokes a plenty. Both visual and done with dialogue. He pokes fun at and outright mocks bigots or bigotry. One of the sillier visual ones has a couple of horse jockeys on a camel. Brooks could take the just plain wrong and make it funny and stupid in an attempt to point out how stupid it was. He poked fun at it which is something we should all do.
Men in Tights is a juvenile yet raunchy comedy that I don’t think you could really do today. Chasity belts and middle fingers and racial jokes abound. For me personally this came out towards the end of what I view as a high point in film comedy. They were new sacred cows and there were no present social taboos on what you could and could not joke about. Brooks and company went for the laugh and never really took into consideration if it might offend a particular individual.
Brooks had a gift for assembling groups of comedic actors that would revel in the silliness and just have fun. In this we have Richard Lewis as Prince John, Roger Rees as the Sheriff of Rottingham, Amy Yasbeck as Maid Marian, Dave Chappelle as Ahchoo, Mark Blankfield as Blinkin, Eric Allan Kramer as Little John, Matthew Porretta as Will Scarlet O’Hara, Isaac Hayes as Ahchoo’s father Asneeze, Tracey Ullman as the sorceress/cook Latrine, Dom DeLuise as Don Giovanni, Avery Schreiber as the Tax Assessor, Dick Van Patten as The Abbot, and Mel Brooks as Rabbi Tuckman who sells sacramental wine and bargain circumcisions. Ouch! Not all household names but recognizable faces to people of a certain age.
An interesting surprise for me at the time was the cameo appearance during the finale of Patrick Stewart as King Richard. We all know him from TNG, and we also know he showed up in American Dad as well as making occasional appearances as himself on Family Guy but back then he had no connection to out there comedy or just comedy so it was a pleasant surprise to see him show up in a Mel Brooks film and absolutely kill it in a short few minutes on screen. His material in the hands of anyone else would’ve been entertaining but he actually made it genuinely funny. He does a bit with Mel Brooks’s Rabbi Tuckman that was a witty old school exchange between two characters.
I understand this is a comedy but for me there are two drawbacks. One is the sets. They look kind of like they were taken from a cheap local stage production. The other is that this looks like it was filmed in sunny Southern California. I swear some of those environments I’ve seen in other TV shows and movies of the time period but this is nothing that meant to be serious or have a deeper meaning so you can probably put that aside.
Other than that the script is witty and just pure fun. In the hands of Brooks, what should have failed epically is turned into comedy gold. The skill of those assembled under Brook’s guiding hand delivered magic.
Robin Hood: Men in Tights is another great comedy from the master of silly comedies. There are plenty of smiles and a few laughs but all in all it’s just a fun 90 minutes that I think of fondly and revisit regularly. I most definitely recommend this one!