The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood

The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood. Charles Fries Productions 1984.

Before watching the movie:

The concept sounds like fun. A goofy take on Robin Hood, no competence to be found with anyone, Robin needing to take out loans to support a rebellion. There are also some pretty big name stars involved.

The concept sounds like it could be funnier than Men In Tights, but I’m not seeing very promising reviews, and there’s the fact that I never heard of it and it all looks very cheap. We’ll see how this goes.

After watching the movie:

As usual for Robin Hood stories, Prince John is regent in his brother King Richard’s absence, and taxing the living daylights out of the English people. Robin Hood leads a band of outlaws living in Sherwood Forest, loyal to the King but mostly just harmlessly jeering at the Prince. When it comes to light that Richard is being held for ransom, John and sir Guy of Gisbourne scheme to add a new tax supposedly to pay the ransom but actually leaving Richard to rot. Queen Mother Eleanor and Lady Marion ask Robin to find a way to raise the money for the ransom, but after attempting to rob the rich on behalf of the poor, it turns out there isn’t any money left in England, so they have to find other means.

The best parts of this movie are the show-stopping comedy scenes. Occasionally, an all-plot scene comes up to try to counterbalance them and get the story moving, but they fall completely flat. It feels like they were trying to do a linear sketch film much like Monty Python’s Holy Grail and Life of Brian films, but weren’t quite brave enough to completely unhinge it.

I’ve seen this movie criticized for leaning too much on anachronism, and in a few places I do feel they were stretching the limits (Sir Guy has a golden card with his name on it that “I never leave home without”, Eleanor asks Marion to put a zipper on her mouth and Marion doesn’t know what a zipper is) but I enjoy anachronism and for the most part it comes off very well. The flip side to references to inventions that haven’t been invented yet is jokes about the historical period they’re in, and they do that very well in my opinion. Especially where it concerns the actual history of King John.

Some may say that the story isn’t compelling, or the actors’ performances aren’t convincing. Those aren’t the point. It’s a farce, you judge it on the comedy. I mostly enjoyed it, but my sense of humor isn’t the same as everyone else’s.

 

Watch this movie: for a silly yet sneakily smart take on the Robin Hood story.

Don’t watch this movie: If you don’t have patience for a bunch of modern people dressing in tights and pretending it’s the 1200s.

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