Robin Hood: Men in Tights (Blu-ray)
This is definitely not Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood. Why? Well, for one this is ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS and two, this Robin speaks with an English accent. While this may not be the fondest of the Mel Brooks collection, it might be if you were growing up in the 80’s or 90’s. Since I am part of the latter half, this film may be the one that I cling to the most. I promise I won’t be biased now that you know the truth.
The plot centers on the age old story of Robin Hood and his merry men. Except this tale is a little different. It seems director Mel Brooks wants to give his take on Robin for a while, but around the same time another Robin film was getting the attention. That particular film I speak of starred Kevin Costner and had a bitchin’ song by Bryan Adams. The point was to poke a bit of fun at the Costner version while pulling other influences in, like the 1938 Robin with Errol Flynn. Even at times, whether intentional or not, the Disney version as well.
This spoof starts with Robin being jailed during the Crusades. Upon his imprisonment, our hero meets a prisoner by the name of Asneeze played by the late and great Issac Hayes. The two join together to break out of jail, and upon their release Asneeze asks Robin to find his son Ahchoo (Dave Chappelle). When Robin arrives back home in England, he finds that things have been turned upside down. Prince John (Richard Lewis) has assumed the throne while his brother King Richard is fighting in the Crusades. The Prince is assisted in power by the Sheriff of Rottingham (Roger Rees) who has a huge thing for the beautiful and quirky, Maid Marian (Amy Yasbeck).
One could look upon MEN IN TIGHTS as a time machine. Every other joke is a 90’s pop culture reference from Arsenio Hall to Reebok pumps. If you are feeling nostalgic for that specific time, then the schtick will work for you. However, if you were born a little late in the game, it may not be as easy to pick up on. Still I think the movie works on many levels. The film has something for someone of any age. The physical comedy is a riot for the wee ones and there is a bit of sexual innuendo for the adults.
As far as the performances, you couldn’t ask for a better Robin than Elwes. He plays a lot of the same cards comedically as he did in PRINCESS BRIDE. Lewis, whom has been a personal favorite of mine for a long time does a splendid job as the cowardly prince. Then there’s Chappelle who stretches his legs for his first big feature appearance. His jokes aren’t the best of the crop, but it’s interesting to watch him here and then reflect on who he is today. So, if a bit of nostalgia, goofballs antics, and a new spin on an old tale interest you, then I’d check this one out.
Video: Quality is decent on this one. The colors are a little bolder than say the VHS, but at times it’s almost as if you don’t even notice the transfer. If I didn’t know it was a Blu-ray, I would have just figured I was watching another DVD. (1.85:1 Widescreen).
Audio: The audio fluctuates often. During some of the scenes the dialogue is clear, then in others it is quite low. However, when it comes to musical numbers, it’s very loud. (5.1 DTS-HD).
Commentary by Mel Brooks: The commentary originally came from laserdisc and isn’t too terrible of a transfer. In short, Brooks is basically the guy who really enjoys the movie and comments on every little thing that pops up on screen, lines included. Very enjoyable for Brooks fans.
Funny Men in Tights: Three Generations of Comedy- HBO featurette (14:00): This is a look on comedy generational wise from Brooks all the way to Chappelle. They also talk about how the story got started and the development.
Robin Hood: Men in Tights: The Legend Had It Coming- HBO Special (26:00): A very cool behind the scenes look. The taping was done in 1993 so it’s a nice little time capsule. Cary Elwes hosts the segment and spends most of the time just being silly. You get a look at the characters, stunts, jokes, and other aspects of the film. The cast discusses their favorite Brooks films.
Isolated Score Track (3:00): Here you can watch the film with the Hummie Mann score. It’s funny because you can hear the musicians prepping between tracks. I think it would be great for someone very, very much into scores.