With very little plot, the film revolves around parodies of the many incarnations of Robin Hood, this time portraying him as a vain fool who escapes with his friend Achoo from a jail in Palestine, only to return to England to upset the greedy King John.
To say that this is the funniest film Mel Brooks has co-written, produced and directed in some years is, alas, not saying very much. Like Brooks' Star Wars spoof, Spaceballs, this is a silly but fairly likeable spoof of a popular popcorn flick — Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves mixed with dashes of Errol Flynn's original blockbuster. Like Spaceballs, it consists of a string of gags rather than a plot, relies utterly on familiarity with its source films and is somewhat hit-and-miss.
Cary Elwes, hamming more broadly and thus less effectively than in Rob Reiner's wittier The Princess Bride, cuts a personable, dumb Robin Hood, boasting that unlike some we can think of, he is equipped to lead the people because he has a real English accent, and after escaping from a Saracen dungeon in Palestine with Achoo (Dave Chappelle), he sets about rubbing King John (Lewis) up the wrong way.
Just as Alan Rickman did in Prince Of Thieves, Rees, another former RSC thespian, steals the picture and the biggest giggles as the wildly nutty Sheriff of Rottingham. Tracey Ullman pops up riotously but briefly as a witch called Latrine, Dom De Luise does an utterly irrelevant but brilliant Brando routine as a medieval Italian gangster, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio lookalike Amy Yasbeck flashes her bazooms a la Barbara Windsor, while Brooks himself gets in on the act as Rabbi Tuckman.
It's all over the place and utterly insane, of course, with a Sherwood Forest rap group and revolting peasants with pun names, yet the laughs don't come thick and fast enough. The best is saved for the last, with the entry of another ex-RSC stalwart turned US TV star affecting a Scots burr for the Good King Richard cameo, but this is less a film, more a few funny sketches strung together.
Sadly, this will not go down as one of Brooks' classics.