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Fox Home Entertainment presents

Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)

"We didn't land on Sherwood Forest! Sherwood Forest landed on us!"- Achoo (Dave Chappelle)

Stars: Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis, Roger Rees
Other Stars: Amy Yasbeck, Dave Chappelle, Isaac Hayes, Tracey Ullman
Director: Mel Brooks

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (off-color humor)
Run Time: 01h:44m:15s
Release Date: 2006-04-04
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C C-C+B- C-


DVD Review

Mel Brooks reigned as the king of parody for decades, but in 1993's Robin Hood: Men In Tights the jokes feel forced, as Brooks tries too hard to generate laughs. This picture looks like a classic, though, compared to Brooks' works since. It's hard to say exactly what went wrong after Spaceballs, but Brooks just never found his comedic footing after taking sci-fi films to task.

Things start on a bad note, when the premise of the story is spelled out to us via a rap song. From there, we get a pretty straightforward retelling of the Robin Hood fable, specifically mirroring the Kevin Costner box office smash, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Brooks' version still involves Robin (Cary Elwes) and his band of Merry Men, including Will Scarlet O'Hara (Matthew Porretta) and Little John (Eric Allan Kramer), who rob from the rich and give to the poor. The villainous Prince John (Richard Lewis) kidnaps Maid Marian (Amy Yasbeck), who wears a chastity belt that can only be opened by her true love. To get to Prince John, Robin has to go through his arch rival, the Sheriff of Rottingham (Roger Rees). Along the way, we meet Don Giovanni (Dom DeLuise), The Abbot (Dick Van Patten), Blinkin (Mark Blankfield), and the grotesque Latrine (Tracey Ullman).

Brooks takes his spoof of the Costner film beyond simply the names of the main characters. The Robin/Will Scarlett relationship was (unintentionally) funny enough in Prince of Thieves, but Brooks takes it to the next comedic level. Alan Rickman's over-the-top performance from Costner's version is nicely taken to task by Roger Rees, but beyond those character parodies, we get nothing but desperate attempts at laughs in the form of cheap sight-gags. The most pointless rip on the Costner picture comes in the form of a cameo by Patrick Stewart that is meant to emulate Sean Connery's surprise turn as King Arthur. Unfortunately, this winds up being more distracting than even remotely funny.

Cary Elwes is fine as Robin, but perhaps the most appealing cast member is Dave Chappelle, and his fans will want to catch one of his earliest film roles, playing one of Robin's Merry Men, Achoo. Unfortunately, these actors can't hide that there are more groaners than moments of inspired laughs. The film might have felt a bit more fresh and original had Brooks chosen to tell his own story in lieu of following the Costner vehicle so closely. He could have even taken a page out of his own book, as Blazing Saddles was one of the more broad spoofs ever filmed, and we all know how great that classic is.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is slightly above average. The images are nicely detailed, but a bit soft at times, and the colors could be more vivid and brighter than they are.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, French, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is Dolby Digital 4.0, but most of the sound stays up front. Some of the music and ambient sounds do creepy back to the rears occasionally, but there isn't a very wide dynamic range in play. There aren't any problems with the dialogue, and the overall mix is generally pleasing.

Audio Transfer Grade: B- 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring High Anxiety, Silent Movie, To Be or Not to Be, Young Frankenstein
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: There's a nice HBO special called Robin Hood: Men in Tights: The Legend Had It Coming, a 25-minute piece featuring numerous cast and crew interviews and a look at Mel Brooks at work behind the camera. Trailers are included for other titles in the Mel Brooks Collection and the theatrical trailer for Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

Extras Grade: C-

Final Comments

Robin Hood: Men in Tights makes its DVD debut in the Mel Brooks Collection, and, while not a huge favorite among the comedic filmmakers' fans, it offers a nice middle ground between his best and worst works. The audio and video are slightly disappointing, but there's a decent documentary on the making of the film.

Chuck Aliaga 2006-04-21