Directed By: Mel Brooks
Written By: J.D. Shapiro, Evan Chandler, and Mel Brooks
I have never been much of a Mel Brooks fan, but when I was nine years old this was just about the funniest thing I had ever seen. I didn’t understand at the time how the movie mocked the most recent rendition of the Robin Hood movie cycle, because I also loved that one too. When this movie came out I was still at an age when The Princess Bride was one of my favorite movies and it made this movie all the better that the Dread Pirate Roberts played the lead role. The sort of comedy this movie features has never normally appealed to me but it got me at the right age and hit my funny bone just right.
Mel Brooks has made a career out of a specific kind of comedy that really just isn’t my thing. I have always found most of what he does stupid rather than funny. I know that it is blasphemous to say so as a movie fan but I have never been a fan of The Young Frankenstein or Blazing Saddles. It’s partly because of the type of comedy I don’t like but more so because I really do not like Gene Wilder. I don’t know what it is about him but I just do not like the guy and can’t stand to see any of his movies. Spaceballs was cute but it’s a bit too much and the same goes for Dracula:Dead and Loving It. I think this movie just happen to catch me at the right age and I was a big fan of Robin Hood at the time. I think that this one is different than the others in plenty of ways too which make it exceptional, but that may simply be nostalgia influencing my opinion.
I love that this movie starts with the choreographed dancers with the rapper setting up the story. They have their Robin Hood hats on backwards, it’s just so funny. I also love that they use that classic “hey-na-ne-na-ne” song to create the beat. It’s this hilarious intro that immediately makes me accepting and willing to overlook all the typical Mel Brooks’ silliness.
The casts that Brooks assembled for this movie also makes it easier to overlook all the silliness going on. I have always been a fan of Cary Elwes and I think his knock on Kevin Costner‘s rendition of Robin Hood is one of the funniest jokes in the movie. “Unlike some Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent.” I have never understood what derailed the career of Elwes because he disappeared forever and never really hit it big. Whatever the reason I’m sure there is an interesting story there. I think Richard Lewis is hilarious and he is the most constant funny character in the film. He’s the type of guy that is just naturally funny and makes comedy seem effortless. Amy Yasbeck is great as Maid Marian with her Everlast chastity belt. Such a gorgeous redhead who Brooks’ must have been smitten with because he brought her back for his Dracula film a couple years later. Finally, in the last moments of this film it seals the deal with a fantastic cameo. When Patrick Stewart shows up as King Richard and declares all toilets be named after his brother John he ends the film on a terrific note. I have long sense been a fan of the ever-aged Stewart in so many roles. As Captain Picard, Professor X, or even as King Richard he is simply awesome and an audience favorite.
This was Dave Chappelle‘s first film role and like everything he does, he nailed it. Achoo, son of Asneeze, is a funny character and it got Chappelle noticed just enough to get him pointed in the right direction. I have always been a big fan of Chappelle. As a kid he caught my eyes with his roles in The Nutty Professor and Con Air, two household favorites of my family that are specifically left out of my own personal collection. As a teen he became a fan favorite of my generation with his hilarious pothead movie Half Baked. Then he blew up into mega stardom while I was in college with the groundbreaking Chappelle’s Show. I can never stress enough how huge that show was and if you weren’t around you could never understand. Walking through my college campus during the height of the show was like having it on as background music. You literally couldn’t walk 100 feet without hearing things like “I’m Rick James bitch!” or even openly spoken racially questionable jokes that suddenly seemed OK. It was unfortunate when Chappelle suddenly and dramatically pulled out of his very successful show and seemingly fell off the map. There were weird stories all around involving him running away to Africa and all kinds of stuff. He was due to be the richest television star in the world before the dramatic exit and opinions varied on the why of it all. I for one never judged him for it, though plenty of people did. As a true and longtime fan I assumed that he had his reasons, and I was willing to support him regardless what he did. Truth be told his show wasn’t really the type of show I generally get into. His was an exception and I enjoyed it but I didn’t miss it when it was gone. A couple of years ago Chappelle started a stand up show that was supposed to launch a comeback for him. He was “starting from the bottom” to get back to the top. Amber and I were fortunate enough to see his show when he quietly showed up in our home town for a venue. I thought he was really funny and it was awesome to see him live. Dave Chappelle is a legend and it was an exceptional experience simply to see him so close and after so long absent from common culture.
This is a movie that I would never give the time of day if it were to be released now. I would undoubtedly categorize it as “Don’t Waste Your Time” and would have nothing but negative things to say about it. I was nine when this movie came out though and that makes all the difference. Time is relative and perception correlates with it in such interesting ways. Our opinions are all the product of when and where we developed them and a movie like this reminds me of that. I love this movie but it is as contrary to my tastes as anything I watch. We call these things guilty pleasures but in truth is all about where and when we came across it during our own journey through life.
Despite my obvious bias towards this film that I fell in love with as a child I still think there are plenty of things that make it worth your time. The intro, Richard Lewis, the typically loved Robin Hood story, and of course Patrick Stewart’s cameo at the end all make this movie worth wild. If you are already a fan of Mel Brooks then this is one you should have already seen but if you steer clear as I tend to then this one is at least worth a shot because it’s funny. I would be really interested in the opinions of others on this film and how they contrast with my own. If you’ve made it this far in this review then stick around a little longer and let me know what you think about it.
The quality of this video is awful but it’s still awesome nonetheless.
NEXT MOVIE: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)