Cary Elwes as Robin Hood
Dave Chappelle as Ahchoo
Amy Yasbeck as Maid Marian of Bagel
Richard Lewis as Prince John
Roger Rees as the Sheriff of Rottingham
Eric Allan Kramer as Little John
Mark Blankfield as Blinkin
Matthew Porretta as Will Scarlet O’Hara
Tracey Ullman as Latrine the Witch
Mel Brooks as Rabbi Tuckman
Patrick Stewart as King Richard
Mel Brooks is one of the most endeared directors in the history of cinema and, yet, he weakened over time. I wouldn’t say he ever became a bad director, but he may have eventually run short of ideas. Robin Hood: Men In Tights is a evidence that he did. It’s not a bad movie. In fact, it’s a fairly good one, actually. It’s just not one of Brooks’ classics.
Spoofing Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Men in Tights basically reenacts scenes from the former movie. Cary Elwes makes a great Robin with his flair for the dramatic and comedic timing (plus, “unlike some other Robin Hoods, [he] can speak with an English accent”). As per the movie that is being spoofed, this movie more or less has the Sheriff as the main villain. He’s of Rottingham, which I must admit to finding funnier than I probably should. Not that there isn’t a Prince John. But he seems to be a nepotist who doesn’t even fully understand what’s going on. It’s even implied that the Sheriff talked him into turning England into an evil dictatorship while the… good dictator is away. And Richard Lewis is a real scene burglar with how he plays a greenhorn king who doesn’t know what he’s doing.
You can also find a number of other recognizable actors including Patrick Stewart, Dom DeLuise, a young Dave Chappelle, and in a surprisingly limited capacity, Mel Brooks himself.
If the performances are good, what’s wrong? Well, I couldn’t help but notice all the jokes that Brooks derives from his past movies. There’s the line “it’s good to be the king” in a sneaky context (from History Of the World, Part I), the overprotective servant of Maid Marion, who annoys her and Robin with the tenacious insistence that there be no sex outside of marriage (similar to a gag in Spaceballs), and Rottingham saying, “walk this way,” followed by a line of people walking as he does (which had been done in numerous movies, including Brooks’ own History Of the World). And I’m only pointing out those I noticed. Again, Brooks was clearly running out of material.
The other problem is that the jokes are of mixed quality. I always thought that the mildly named Blinkin, Brooks’ answer to the blind Duncan of Prince of Thieves was hilarious. Other stuff like Little John thinking he’s drowning in inch-high water are lacking in wit.
If it were up to the writing, Men in Tights would be mediocre, maybe worse than mediocre. Luckily, it has great performances that make it quite watchable. Much better that that lousy Robin Hood movie with Russell Crowe five years ago.
Despite still getting great actors, I can’t consider this one of Brooks’ great accomplishments. He wasn’t making regular movies for too long after this. Given that his films would have likely continued to deteriorate, perhaps it’s for the best.
Overall: 7 out of 10