Dir: Mel Brooks, 1993
By 1993, Mel Brooks no longer had the hold he once did over parody. The energy and inventiveness that came with one of his films, had long dissipated. The brilliance behind Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, was no longer to be seen. With the ZAZ trio, stealing the power right from under him, Brooks was left with making cheap jokes and scrambling for any material.
But, even with the meagre ingredients available, Brooks is still able to produce a film that is worthy of repeat viewings.
Rather than spoofing a specific Robin Hood movie, Brooks takes elements from the two most famous adaptations and incorporates them into this.
The style, is very much in the Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone movie, The Adventures Of Robin Hood. Wearing green tights and a feather in his cap, Cary Elwes looks every bit the dashing hero as Flynn did.
But that’s where the praise ends. Elwes, doesn’t have the comic ability to carry the film. He tries too hard to be funny, whereas, with everybody else, it comes naturally.
Like Spaceballs, some of the comedy is a tad silly and obvious, but that doesn’t stop the rest of the film being thoroughly enjoyable. There are some great musical numbers, with Men In Tights (set to the music from the Jews In Space sketch, featured in Brooks’ History Of The World Part 1) being the highlight.
It has to be said, that some of the jokes a little embarrassing. You can’t help but wince at Roger Rees’ Sheriff Of Rottingham (see? It’s unoriginal) muddling his words. It’s especially shocking, when you consider the output that the director has already produced. Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, were genius in their satire. Robin Hood: Men In Tights, feels lazy at times.
Arguably, this film is Brooks’ most self referential, with many of the gags recycled from his other movies and a sly acknowledgement of this.
There is still some brilliant gags, that show Brooks’ creativity and hark back to his days as a master of comedy. The blind servant, Blinkin, reading Playboy in Braille. Or, going hell for leather with his sword in a melee, only to reveal he’s been attacking a wooden post.
Amy Yasbeck, dons a remarkably fair English accent. Coupled with her cute looks, Yasbeck makes a sexy and compelling Maid Marian.
In all, Robin Hood: Men In Tights is a step up from Spaceballs and shows promise, that the Mel Brooks of old is still there, just waiting for another chance.