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Friday, September 16, 2011

My 100 Worst Movies of the 90's - 85 - Robin Hood: Men In Tights (1993)

A Mel Brooks movie is on my list?  How?!  What happened here?  I just don't understand it.  For decades Brooks gave us comic genius with a huge list of legitimately funny movies.  So when he took on the prospect of a spoof of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, we expected comic gold.  However, we didn't get gold, we got a split arrow.

The problem with this movie is it could have been great.  Cary Elwes is a talented and very, very likable actor and though he tried, this material was just too weak to work.  Countless throwaway performances, lame pop-culture references and an exceptionally poorly cast Richard Lewis as Prince John all factored into this film's failure (Not to say I don’t like Richard Lewis, but he just didn’t feel right for the part).  The other characters aren’t bad, but they are performed stiffly.  The actors seem very disconnected from each other, just as many of the gags seem disconnected from the plot.

Like with his other comedies, Brooks used out-of-place characters and anachronisms to generate jokes but Men In Tights had far too many reaction shots, bad musical numbers and badly-acted minor characters to make it an enjoyable experience.  It is too bad too, as Prince of Thieves had plenty to parody, but it's almost as though Mel Brooks didn't even try here.  While many of his classic movies like History of the World: Part I and Spaceballs had a certain charm in their antics, here everything seems forced and the film was just forgettable as a result.

That said, I must admit, Cary Elwes makes a much better Robin Hood than Kevin Costner, as his performance really exhibits many of the elements that made Eroll Flynn’s performance in the classic and spectacular The Adventures of Robin Hood from 1938 so memorable.  Costner was going for a more serious, less “fairy tale”, Robin of Locksley and in doing so lost much of the charm that has made him a classic character.  Still, Elwes is the only person really doing anything here, and while members of the supporting cast (which includes as Dave Chapelle and Tracy Ullman) can be funny, they just seem out of place and even occasionally appear to be the butt of ridicule.

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