Robin Hood: Men in Tights
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Robin Hood: Men in Tights is a 1993 American musical adventure comedy film and a parody of the Robin Hood story. The film was produced and directed by Mel Brooks, co-written by Brooks, Evan Chandler, and J. David Shapiro based on a story by Chandler and Shapiro, and stars Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis, and Dave Chappelle in his film debut. It includes frequent comedic references to previous Robin Hood films (particularly Prince of Thieves, upon which the plot is loosely structured, Disney's Robin Hood, and the 1938 Errol Flynn adaptation, The Adventures of Robin Hood).
|Robin Hood: Men in Tights|
North American theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mel Brooks|
|Produced by||Mel Brooks|
|Music by||Hummie Mann|
|Cinematography||Michael D. O'Shea|
|Edited by||Stephen E. Rivkin|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
(USA & Canada/Spain)
Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International
|Box office||$35.7 million|
The film also features Brooks in a minor role; the first time he had appeared in one of his own films where he does not receive top billing or play the lead role since Young Frankenstein. In addition to Brooks, it features cameos from Brooks regulars Dom DeLuise, Dick Van Patten, and Rudy De Luca.
Robin of Loxley is captured during the Crusades and is imprisoned at Khalil Prison in Jerusalem. With the help of fellow inmate Asneeze, who was arrested for jaywalking, he escapes and frees the other inmates. Robin is asked by Asneeze to find his son, Ahchoo. Upon returning to England, he finds Ahchoo and discovers that Prince John has assumed control while King Richard is away fighting in the Crusades. Unbeknownst to Richard, the prince is abusing his power. Robin returns to his family home, Loxley Hall, only to find it being repossessed by John's men. His family's blind servant, Blinkin, informs Robin that his family members and pets have all died as well, and the only thing his father left him is a key which opens "the greatest treasure in all the land."
Robin recruits the large and ignorant Little John, and his friend Will Scarlet O'Hara, to help regain his father's land and oust Prince John from the throne. On his quest, Robin also attracts the attention of Maid Marian of Bagelle, who wants to find the man who has the key to her heart and Everlast chastity belt. They are also joined by Rabbi Tuckman, who shares with them his sacramental wine and bargain circumcisions. While Robin is training his band of tights-clad Merry Men, the spoonerism-spouting Sheriff of Rottingham hires the Mafioso Don Giovanni to assassinate Robin at the Spring Festival. Maid Marian hears of the evil plot, and sneaks out of her castle to warn Robin, accompanied by her frumpy German Lady-in-Waiting Broomhilde. The Sheriff and Don expect that Robin will not refuse a chance to participate in the archery tournament due to his pride, and Robin does just that.
At the archery tournament, a disguised Robin makes it to the final round, where he makes his shot but loses to his opponent. Robin calls this situation absurd, takes off his disguise and pulls out a copy of the movie's script to discover that he gets another shot; the Sheriff and Prince John then pull out their own copies and confirm this. Giovanni's assassin attempts to kill Robin by shooting at him with a scoped crossbow, but Blinkin catches the arrow in midair. Robin then takes the second shot, this time using a special "PATRIOT arrow" and hits the target. After winning the tournament, Robin is arrested. Before Robin is taken away, Marian promises to do the most disgusting thing she can think of in exchange for Robin's safety: marry the Sheriff.
Several hours later, the ceremony commences with the opening prayer in Pig Latin. The Abbot quickly and discreetly reveals the Sheriff's unimposing first name, Mervyn. Before Marian can say "I do", the castle is attacked by the Men in Tights, led by Little John, Ahchoo, Blinkin, and Will. They quickly free Robin and a battle ensues. Marian is carried off to the tower by the Sheriff, who wants to deflower her but cannot get around the chastity belt without some uncomfortable chafing.
Robin arrives and begins to duel the sheriff, during which Robin's key falls into the lock of Marian's chastity belt, and Robin realizes it really is the key to "the greatest treasure in all the land." After winning the fight Robin spares the sheriff's life only to miss his sheath and accidentally run the sheriff through. The witch Latrine, Prince John's full-time cook and part-time adviser, saves him by giving him a magical lifesaver in exchange for agreeing to marry her. Before Robin and Marian can "celebrate" in her bedroom, Broomhilde arrives, insisting they get married first. Rabbi Tuckman conducts the ceremony, but they are suddenly interrupted by King Richard, recently returned from the Crusades, who insists on sanctioning the marriage with a kiss to the new bride. He orders John to be taken away to the Tower of London and made part of the tour. He also announces that, as the Prince has surrounded his given name with a foul stench, all the toilets in the kingdom are to be renamed "johns".
All being as it should be, Robin and Marian are married and Ahchoo is made the new sheriff of Rottingham. When the crowd expresses its disbelief at a black sheriff, Ahchoo reminds them that "it worked in Blazing Saddles". When the night comes, Robin and Maid Marian attempt to open the chastity belt, only to realize her lock will not open with his key. Then Robin calls for a locksmith.
- Cary Elwes as Robin Hood
- Richard Lewis as Prince John
- Roger Rees as Sheriff of Rottingham
- Amy Yasbeck as Maid Marian
- Dave Chappelle as Ahchoo
- Mark Blankfield as Blinkin
- Eric Allan Kramer as Little John
- Matthew Porretta as Will Scarlet O'Hara
- Isaac Hayes as Asneeze
- Tracey Ullman as Latrine
- Patrick Stewart as King Richard
- Dom DeLuise as Don Giovanni
- Steve Tancora as Filthy Luca
- Joe Dimmick as Dirty Ezio
- Dick Van Patten as The Abbot
- Mel Brooks as Rabbi Tuckman
- Megan Cavanagh as Broomhilde
- Avery Schreiber as Tax Assessor
- Chuck McCann as Villager
- Brian George as Dungeon Maitre D'
- Zitto Kazann as Head Saracen Guard
- Richard Assad as Assistant Saracen Guard
- Herman Poppe as Sheriff's Guard
- Clive Revill as Fire Marshall
- Joe Baker as Angry Villager
- Carol Arthur as Complaining Villager
- Kelly Jones as Buxom Lass
- Clement von Franckenstein as Royal Announcer
- Corbin Allred as Young Lad
- Chase Masterson as Giggling Court Lady
- Don Lewis as Mime
- Roger Owens as Peanut Vendor
- Patrick Valenzuela as Lead Camel Jockey
- Steffon as Sherwood Forest Rapper
- David DeLuise as Villager
- Marc Ian Sklar as Merry Man (uncredited)
- Tim Storms as Merry Man (uncredited)
Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote, "What's missing is the kind of densely packed comic screenplay that helped to make 'Young Frankenstein' and 'High Anxiety' two of the most delectable movie parodies of the last 20 years. 'Men in Tights' has the manner of something that wasn't argued over long enough. A few good gags are supplemented by dozens of others that still need to be worked on or tossed out entirely." Caryn James wrote, "'Men in Tights' is not as relentlessly clever and comic as his '70s films, but its funniest moments prove that Mr. Brooks has not lost his shrewd, nutty irreverence." Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film half of one star out of four and called it "a most disappointing Mel Brooks movie parody that suggests that the once hilarious Brooks has lost his way. The pacing is agonizingly slow, and many of the jokes are recycled from his earlier, better work." Rita Kempley of The Washington Post called it "a pointless and untimely lampoon of 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' from the increasingly creaky spoofmeister Mel Brooks." Peter Rainer of the Los Angeles Times was mixed, writing that "what's enjoyable about the best parts of 'Men in Tights' is its grab-bag, throwaway style," but also finding "something a little dutiful and desperate about portions of the film, as if Brooks were trying to capture an audience he didn't really connect with." Jay Boyar of the Orlando Sentinel called the film "crashingly unfunny" and a sign that "the 67-year old comedian's sense of humor isn't nearly as sharp as it once was."
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 40%, based on 42 reviews, and an average rating of 5.1/10. Despite this, the film has developed a cult following.
In his seminal book, Reel Bad Arabs, Jack Shaheen saw the movie positively, describing it as a "funny fable" that spoofs Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, containing "harmless visual and verbal puns," noting the presence of Black actors, "a rabbi, a Muslim Moor, and an abbot," with Robin Hood's sidekick being the Moor, "Ahchoo" (played by Dave Chappelle) who is the son of "Ahsneeze" (Isaac Hayes). He further notes that "Arab music underscores shots of "Khalil Prison: Jerusalem," with two Saracen guards, naming "Mukhtar" and "Falafel," tossing Robin into a dungeon, with guards "torturing" Robin with a "tongue" stretcher. A guard, anticipating trouble, as he notes, "Oh, by the love of Allah," while an "Arab-American actor, Richard Assad, portrays one of guards."
Robin Hood: Men in Tights was not one of Brooks's best grossing films in its theatrical release, though Brooks mentions that it and Spaceballs are his two top selling films on video in a DVD interview for the latter film.
|"Men In Tights"||The Merry Men Singers
(Steve Lively, Randy Crenshaw, Kerry Katz, Geoff Koch & Rick Logan)
|"Marian"||Debbie James||Mel Brooks|
|"Sherwood Forest Rap"||Kevin Dorsey & The Merry Men Singers||Mel Brooks|
|"The Night Is Young And You're So Beautiful"||Arthur Rubin & the Merry Men Singers||Billy Rose, Irving Kahal|
|"Marian" (end credit duet)||Cathy Dennis & Lance Ellington||Mel Brooks|
|"Row, Row, Row Your Boat"||uncredited|
|"Bridal Chorus"||uncredited||Richard Wagner|
|"Rule, Britannia!"||uncredited||James Thomson, Thomas Arne|
- Communications, Bpi (October 1, 1992). "Brooks Plans `Robin Hood: Men In Tights". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
- "Robin Hood - Men in Tights (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. August 25, 1993. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
- "Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
- Rainer, Peter (July 28, 1993). "Men in Tights': A See-Through Laugh". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
- Canby, Vincent (July 28, 1993). "Mel Brooks Aims His Comedic Barbs At Robin Hood et al." The New York Times. C13.
- James, Caryn (August 1, 1993). "FILM VIEW; Mel Brooks Vs. the Boyz N the Wood". The New York Times. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
- Siskel, Gene (July 30, 1993). "Mel Brooks loses his way in lame 'Robin Hood' parody". Chicago Tribune. Section 7, page C.
- Kempley, Rita (July 28, 1993). "No Goyz in This 'Hood'". The Washington Post. C2.
- Rainer, Peter (July 28, 1993). "FILM VIEW; Mel Brooks Vs. the Boyz N the Wood". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
- Boyar, Jay (July 30, 1993). "Brooks Recycles His Old Jokes For The Tedious 'Robin Hood'". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
- "Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- "1993 'Robin Hood: Men in Tights'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
- Jack G. Shaheen, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (New York: Olive Branch Press, 2001), p. 399.
- Fox, David J. (August 2, 1993). "'Sun' Rises Over 'Justice'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
- "Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)". IMDb.