Side Note

The new Robin Hood movie will not be as good as ‘Robin Hood: Men in Tights’

The trailer for Robin Hood, a movie that nobody asked to happen, is here. Starring Welsh actor Taron Egerton as Robin Hood and Jamie Foxx as his sidekick Little John, Robin Hood looks like it will be a tonal cross between the Christopher Nolan Batman movies and A Knight’s Tale, accompanied by fight scenes that rip off John Wick. Lionsgate, the studio behind the film, has promised (threatened?) a “hip” version of Robin Hood, which, judging from this trailer, seems to mean that everybody in it is dressed like an extra in a Kanye West music video and uses modern slang in a sub-Shakespearean accent.

The consensus, according to a Twitter search I just did, seems to be that the movie will be laughably bad. I am inclined to agree.

But wait a second… A Robin Hood movie with anachronistic costumes, absurd dialogue, and a general disregard for it source material? Mel Brooks already made that movie. It was called Robin Hood: Men in Tights, and it is the best Robin Hood movie.

In case you have never seen this cinematic masterpiece, Brooks casts Cary “Guy from The Princess Bride” Elwes as Robin Hood and has him portray the character as if he were the only guy on set who thought he was in an actual Robin Hood movie. Having Elwes play things relatively straight frees up Brooks to go nuts — there are musical numbers, speeches stolen from Winston Churchill, and a gigantic mole on the face of Richard Lewis (playing Robin’s rival Prince John as if he were a spoiled Upper East Side rich kid) that changes location on his face every scene. Dom DeLuise appears as a mob boss with cotton balls stuffed in his mouth. Brooks plays a rabbi who offers “half-off” circumcisions. Everybody’s tights come in giant eggs. Oh and also, it features a 19-year-old Dave Chappelle in his first film role as Robin Hood’s best friend Achoo (his dad, played by Isaac Hayes, is named Asneeze).

While this new Robin Hood movie looks pretty terrible on its own, it becomes even more absurd when you realize that there is one Men in Tights scene in particular that predicted its entire vibe. It features Elwes and Chappelle, who is wearing Reebok Pumps, doing kung-fu:

The fact that there’s going to be another Robin Hood film at all is a symptom of the self-cannibalizing nature of American culture, in which Hollywood executives have increasingly convinced themselves that audiences will go see literally any movie if they’re already somehow familiar with its characters, even if said movie transparently sucks ass. I am not the first person to point this out and I will not be the last, but Men in Tights was at least self-aware enough to acknowledge that audiences were coming to see it because it was a Robin Hood movie made by Mel Brooks, and that this fact was patently absurd.

If there’s a silver lining to this new, bad Robin Hood, it’s that we can credibly hope that it will be such a box office disaster that it causes Hollywood to realize that movies can’t just skate by on name recognition alone and that it might be nice to offer audiences some originality every once in a while. Then again, maybe it will make a bazillion dollars and we’ll all be doomed.