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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Mel Brooks
Cast:
Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis, Roger Rees, Amy Yasbeck, Dave Chappelle, Isaac Hayes, Tracey Ullman, Patrick Stewart, Dom DeLuise
Writing Credits:
Mel Brooks, Evan Chandler (and story), J.D. Shapiro (and story)

Tagline:
The legend had it coming ... Find out where Robin Hood put his Little John, what made Will Scarlet, and what did Friar Tuck into his tights that Maid Marion all of a quiver?

Synopsis:
A parody of the much-done medieval English tale of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Robin Hood: Men In Tights also directly lampoons the politically correct Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, which starred the hearthrob of the time, the very un-British Kevin Costner. English hearthrob Cary Elwes gets a turn in the role of the hero of Sherwood Forest who robs from the rich to give to the poor when he returns from the Crusades to find his beloved King Richard (Patrick Stewart in an amazing Sean Connery imitation) usurped by the evil Prince John (Richard Lewis) and his henchman, the Sheriff of Rottingham (Roger Rees). In typical Brooks fashion there is much satire, some gross jokes, a dash of screwball farce, and a Jewish spin put on gentile characters: Hence, Friar Tuck is transformed into Rabbi Tuckman (Mel Brooks), who is eager to perform circumcisions on the dim-witted Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Tracey Ullmann further livens up the ensemble as the witchlike cook Latrine. Those familiar with other Brooks films will also note moments parodying some of the director's own past spoofs, including High Anxiety and Blazing Saddles.

Box Office:
Budget
$20 million.
Domestic Gross
$35.699 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English Dolby Surround 2.0
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 96 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 5/11/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Mel Brooks
• Isolated Score
• “Funny Men In Tights: Three Generations of Comedy” Featurette
• “Robin Hood: Men in Tights - The Legend Had It Coming” Featurette
• Trailers


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Robin Hood: Men In Tights [Blu-Ray] (1993)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 28, 2010)

Back during his 1970s heyday, Mel Brooks tended to make movies that spoofed flicks from many decades in the past. That meant parodies of westerns, Universal’s horror, silent films and Hitchcock.

As his career continued into the 1980s and 1990s, though, Brooks tended toward more recent targets. This started with 1987’s Star Wars spoof Spaceballs and included 1995’s Dracula Dead and Loving It and 1993’s Robin Hood: Men in Tights. The latter followed Kevin Costner’s 1991 hit while the former came on the heels of Francis Coppola’s 1992 flick. (To be honest, Dead more closely followed the Young Frankenstein model and parodied 1930s horror more than Coppola’s work, but it’s clear Brooks’ movie wouldn’t exist without Stoker’s.)

All of this means Brooks’ flicks are less likely to feel like labors of love and more likely to come across as cheap attempts to cash in on current trends. I thought Dead and Spaceballs were pretty awful, but I still wanted to give Tights - Brooks’ second to last directorial effort – a look.

Imprisoned in Jerusalem, Robin of Loxley (Cary Elwes) undergoes interrogation intended to compel him to divulge the location of English King Richard (Patrick Stewart). Assisted by a Moor named Asneeze (Isaac Hayes), Robin escapes from prison and returns home. As a favor to Asneeze, he watches after his pal’s son Ahchoo (Dave Chappelle), and he also amasses a collection of other compatriots who become his Merry Men.

They come up against wicked Prince John (Richard Lewis) and his enforcer the Sheriff of Rottingham (Roger Rees). They oppress the people and create an overall aura of unpleasantness. It’s up to Robin and his boys to rob from the rich, give to the poor, yadda yadda yadda – all while he also romances lovely Maid Marian (Amy Yasbeck).

I can’t decide what’s worse: Brooks’ inability to alter his comedic style to fit the times, or his attempts to do so. In the latter vein come some of the most embarrassing scenes in Tights. At the film’s start, we see an MC Hammer clone and his cohorts do an utterly insipid rap to introduce the film, and Ahchoo exists for little reason other than to give us some anachronistic jive talk. (The movie also throws in a quick Malcolm X reference for no apparent reason.)

Actually, I don’t know if Ahchoo really counts as an attempt to give Tights current flavor or not. On one hand, the character makes then-modern references to South Central and Rodney King, but much of his dialogue feels straight out of the Seventies. Even in the early 1990s, the term “honkies” was badly outdated, and much of Ahchoo’s dialogue sounds like it was written by a white guy who got his ear for black lingo from Good Times.

For all the other characters and situations, Brooks fans will experience a sense of déjà vu, as the flick feels an awful lot like almost every other spoof he’s ever made. Without the cleverness and creativity of his 1970s works, that is. Brooks was clearly running on fumes by 1993, so the film attempts to amuse us with the same tired kinds of slapstick, ethnic, sexual and sex gags we’ve seen over and over. This means the movie comes across like a retread, as though the BrooksBot 2000 screenwriting program generated the script.

Perhaps a better cast could make something out of this mess, but that doesn’t occur here. Oh, I don’t think that Tights comes with bad actors, but most just don’t work within the Brooks milieu. Elwes overacts to an extreme, as he attempts to create laughs via his mugging and general goofiness. I understand his desire to do this, since the script gave him little with which to work, but his over the top performance makes the movie worse, not better.

None of the others fare particularly well, and at times, they just feel like younger replacements for old Brooks regulars. Yasbeck offers an obvious sub for Madeline Kahn, and Megan Cavanagh – as Marian’s lady in waiting – does the Cloris Leachman thing. Mark Blankfield’s Blinkin offers a total Marty Feldman recreation as well.

Normally I’d see Prince John as the obvious part for Brooks himself – who does make a cameo – but Lewis plays the part with a strong Gene Wilder flavor, so perhaps that’s the more logical inspiration. Whatever the case, virtually all of these actors feel like cheap substitutes for their more talented predecessors.

In truth, I can’t call Tights an absolute disaster, as it manages three or four minor laughs, and that’s three or four more than I got from Dead and Loving It or Life Stinks, the two films on either side of Tights - or even the insanely overrated 1981 stinker History of the World Part I. While not Mel Brooks’ worst, however, it still lacks much entertainment value, and it stands as a sad testament to a comedian in severe decline.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Robin Hood: Men in Tights appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. At times the image showed its age, but it usually looked good.

Sharpness seemed fine. Despite some light edge haloes, I thought the film provided reasonably good clarity and definition. Any soft spots remained reasonably minor. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and source flaws failed to distract; I saw a couple of small specks but nothing else.

Colors came across with good definition. The movie showed natural hues that usually seemed concise and vivid. A few shots were a bit flat, but usually I thought the tones seemed positive. Blacks were dense and firm, while shadows usually looked good. A few low-light shots appeared a wee bit thick, but most of them worked fine. No serious issues materialized, and that was good enough for a “B”.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Tights, it added pep to the film. The track didn’t go nuts, but it opened things up nicely. Music showed good stereo delineation, while effects were well placed and smoothly integrated. The various battles allowed for many chances to create lively material, and the movie followed up on those. The surrounds contributed quite a lot of good information and even tossed in more than a smattering of stereo details. This was a pretty involving mix.

Audio quality occasionally showed its age, but the sound usually came across well. Speech was generally natural and crisp, and I never encountered any problems with intelligibility. Music could’ve been more dynamic, but the score remained acceptably full. Effects came across as clear and concise. Across the board, I felt pretty pleased with this mix.

When we head to the supplements, we find an audio commentary from writer/director/actor Mel Brooks. Recorded for an old laserdisc, he offers a running, screen-specific discussion. Brooks chats about inspirations and influences, story/character choices, cast and crew, sets and locations, music, action and stunts, and a few other subjects.

Other Brooks commentaries I’ve heard have been spotty at best. The strongest one came alongside Blazing Saddles, but that was a 55-minute audio essay, not a full commentary. The others ranged from mediocre to awful.

While the Tights track doesn’t excel, it works better than the others. To be sure, Brooks makes this a peppy, joke-filled discussion. He keeps things moving at a good rate and delivers a fun atmosphere. He tends to praise his movie too much, but he also points out gags that he doesn’t like. There’s not quite enough real filmmaking info here to turn the track into a classic, but it’s enjoyable.

Movie music fans will be happy to find an Isolated Score Track. This presents Hummie Mann’s music in DTS-HD MA 5.1. While the film doesn’t offer a great score, it’s still nice to get this as a bonus for those interested.

Two featurettes follow. Funny Men In Tights: Three Generations of Comedy goes for 13 minutes, 49 seconds and offers notes from Brooks, Sledge Hammer! creator Alan Spencer, writer JD Shapiro, and actors Dom DeLuise, Dick Van Patten, Megan Cavanagh, David DeLuise, Tracy Ullman, Dave Chappelle, and Chuck McCann. The program looks at the project’s origins and script, cast and performances, locations, and the movie’s reception.

Don’t expect a ton from this superficial piece. We get a smattering of decent notes but not a lot of solid content. “Generations” provides a mediocre overview without much substance.

Originally aired on HBO, Robin Hood: Men in Tights - The Legend Had It Coming lasts 26 minutes, 14 seconds and features Brooks, Dom DeLuise, Chappelle, Cavanagh, Ullman, sword/fight coordinator Victor Paul, stunt coordinator Brian Burrows, stuntman Troy Gilbert, and actors Cary Elwes, Roger Rees, Richard Lewis, Amy Yasbeck, Mark Blankfield, Isaac Hayes, Patrick Stewart, and Eric Allan Kramer. The show looks at cast and characters, stunts and training, working with Brooks and thoughts about his other films, costumes, and characters.

One shouldn’t expect anything substantial from an HBO promo piece, and “Coming” follows the usual fluffy trend. That said, it does include some interesting elements, mostly due to the various clips from the set. We get a nice array of shots from the production, and those add value. We don’t learn much, but the candid material’s good.

Finally, we get some trailers. In addition to the promo for Tights, we locate ads for High Anxiety, History of the World Part I, Silent Movie, To Be Or Not to Be and Young Frankenstein.

If you want to find Mel Brooks’ worst movie, look elsewhere. If you want to find one of Mel Brooks’ five worst movies, however, Robin Hood: Men In Tights fits the bill. Uninspired, desperate and almost wholly lacking in cleverness, this one feels like a cheap attempt to capitalize on a then-recent hit. The Blu-ray provides pretty good picture and audio as well as a reasonably positive set of supplements. I feel pretty pleased with this release, but the movie itself is a clunker.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main