Robin of Loxley (Cary Elwes) escapes from Khalil Prison in Jerusalem and is tasked with finding fellow inmate Asneeze’s (Isaac Hayes) son Ahchoo (Dave Chapelle). When he returns to England, Robin discovers that Prince John (Richard Lewis) has been left in charge while King Richard (Patrick Stewart) is fighting in the Crusades. He also catches the eye of Maid Marian of Bagelle (Amy Yasbeck), who Prince John has his eye on too.
Robin Hood: Men in Tights was originally released in 1993 and it was a huge flop at the box office. Hoping to cash-in on the much more successful Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner, the film has been chalked up as one of Mel Brooks’ career misses. The film has resurfaced with a new DVD release and a first-time Blu-ray release so the chance to revisit it was one that I found very appealing.
I was hoping going into it, that Robin Hood: Men in Tights would be one of those films that was ahead of its time or misunderstood the first-time round. Sadly that didn’t turn out to be the case and you can see why it didn’t pull in the big audiences it had hoped for. One of the key elements of a successful parody is being able to poke fun of all the references in a clever and witty way.
That’s where Robin Hood: Men in Tights has its biggest misstep – the jokes are obvious, clunky and 26-years-on some of them are just a little bit on the wrong side of creepy. Now I’m not one to be overly sensitive, even in this ‘Me Too’ era we’re now living in but a running joke in the film is that Maid Marian needs to find the right man to unlock her chastity belt and have sex with her. There’s literally no other purpose for the character in the film and to say that’s reductive is an understatement. It didn’t work then and it certainly doesn’t work now.
The film isn’t completely without merit. There are some laughs to be had, as juvenile as they might be, and actually the cast is realty good. Cary Elwes was better than this at the time he made it but his charm and charisma just about makes the film watchable. Another highlight is Richard Rees who keeps his Prince John on the right side of pantomime. Tracey Ullman is reliably funny too as Latrine, an old hag who is infatuated with Prince John.
The Blu-ray transfer is impressive. Whether or not the film needed, or deserved one, may be a moot point but it looks nice. The picture quality is great and the sound has been scrubbed up making it clearer than ever.
Robin Hood: Men in Tights is sadly just not a very good film. Despite the best efforts of the cast, and believe me they try very hard, the film can’t rise about its terrible script and base humour. This should have been a laugh-a-minute classic but instead it’ll be remembered as a missed opportunity box office flop, and that’s a real shame.
Cast: Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis, Roger Rees, Amy Yasbeck, Mark Blankfield, Dave Chappelle, Isaac Hayes, Erica Allan Kramer, Matthew Porretta, Tracey Ullman, Patrick Stewart Director: Mel Brooks Writer: J.D. Shapiro, Evan Chandler, Mel Brooks Certificate: PG Duration: 104 mins Released by: Fabulous Films Release date: 22nd April 2019 Buy Robin Hood: Men in Tights