Robin Hood: Men in Tights
For some reason I thought I had seen this, but upon a recent viewing it seems almost certain that I hadn’t. At least, I didn’t remember any of it. My impression had been that it wasn’t very good (go figure; how could I have an opinion on a movie I never saw?). For what it’s worth, it’s better than I didn’t remember it to be. … or something like that.
Like Spaceballs, it’s uneven, and badly edited. Visual jokes go on too long. We already get it, Mel, no need to run it into the ground. But the strong point here is the verbal humor. There’s some very funny stuff.
There is also Mr. Brooks’s penchant for breaking the fourth wall, mostly involving the movie equipment itself, a joke I first remember from High Anxiety, when he spoofed Hitchcock’s use of fancy camera work by having a long, long dolly shot from outside a house end up with the camera breaking the glass in a window, causing everyone inside to turn to look at it. He does that several times here, and it gets to be too much. When Robin loses the archery contest he is so startled that he gets out a copy of the script and is relieved to see he gets a second chance. Other characters grab their scripts, too. Mel is also good at funny anachronism, like having the cowardly Prince John use a remote to lower the portcullis of the castle, and many others.
All in all, it’s not a success … but I have to mention my favorite joke. There’s a character, played by Tracy Ullman in lots of ugly makeup, named Latrine the Witch. Someone asks her if her family name really is Latrine. “Yeah,” she says. “We changed it a few hundred years ago.” “Changed it to Latrine?” “Yeah. Used to be Shithouse.” Okay, it’s juvenile, but I laughed.