Today! Because we didn’t land on Sherwood Forest, Sherwood Forest landed on us –
Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
Directed by Mel Brooks
Starring Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis, Dave Chappelle, Roger Rees, Tracey Ullman, Amy Yasbeck, Mark Blankfield, Patrick Stewart, Mel Brooks, Isaac Hayes, Dom DeLuise, Dick Van Patten, Robert Ridgely, Eric Allan Kramer, Megan Cavanagh, Matthew Porretta, Avery Schreiber, Clive Revill
While far from the best Mel Brooks outing, it is the last good movie he’d direct (in fairness, this was only followed by the thoroughly meh Dracula: Dead and Loving It), and it was on TV constantly in the early/mid nineties. But I’m not trying to make excuses for its inclusion here – there is a lot to like about Men in Tights. Cary Elwes was perfect for this sort of comedy – only really on display here and in Hot Shots! – and effortlessly carries the mayhem along. I also can never keep straight whether he appeared in Mel’s Dracula or Coppola’s Dracula that inspired it, so solid is he at both types of movies. Sure, it revels in the dated, Catskills-style jokes Mel would lean more and more into as the years wore on, but between Chappelle’s great early work here as Ahchoo, Tracey Ullman uglying it up as the witch Latrine, and Richard Lewis doing his best Richard Lewis impersonation as Prince John, there is plenty to enjoy. Does it have the laugh-out-loud highs of Mel’s early films? Not really, but it also pushes harder on parody, and really dials up the number of jokes per minute. So what if the success rate is 50/50? I still really enjoy Men in Tights.
This also stands as one of the wife’s favorite movies, which certainly helps with repeated viewing. She is still reluctant to share her personal 400 favorite films – maybe she’s holding out for that sweet book deal – but I know for a fact that this is one of her top films, as she has remarked off-handedly in the past, “Men in Tights is one of my favorite movies.” I recall these sorts of things! I don’t remember her every weighing in about Payback, however.
Virtually awardless up to now, I think it fair Men in Tights goes home today with Best Chastity Belt for Marian’s ensemble, and Best Costner Burn for Elwes claiming he can do an English accent.