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Introduction to movie. Bitter comment from Walt Disney. Batman joke. He’s been to Bahia. Have you ever danced with the Red Rooster in the pale moonlight? Columbo appearance. Batman joke. Batman joke.
Oh, sorry. Does it seem like I’m recycling a lot of material from other reviews? Well, when in Rome.
Robin Hood came out in 1973, in a decade when the Disney company was moving further and further away from its roots as an animation studio and becoming the massive, many tentacled, HYDRA-esque cartel bent on world domination that we know and love today.
The vast majority of the company’s earnings in this period came from the theme parks and merchandise. The studio’s live action movie division was also branching out into new genres like science fiction (The Black Hole) horror (The Watcher in the Woods) and hardcore pornography (Herbie Rides Again. I assume from the title). Meanwhile, the animation division was increasingly being treated like the weak sister of the company and Robin Hood is one of the best examples of this. This movie is infamous for its borrowing of animation from earlier Disney movies, in fact it’s probably got the most blatant examples of any film in the canon. Why is this? Well, because they were fucking broke. They had to make this thing on $15 Million, which sounds like a lot, but for a feature length animated movie is like trying to re-enact the moon landing with some aluminium cans and a few bottle rockets. And yet, I come here to praise Robin Hood, not to bury it. This movie, probably more than any other, perfectly encapsulates the Scratchy Era aesthetic: We got no money, we’re ugly as sin, but we got the charm and we got the tunes. Robin Hood has buckets of charm and some really great songs. It also has the kind of manic energy you would expect from a movie animated by starving hobos who were being paid in hot dogs.
Alright, so the movie begins with a storybook opening and we meet our narrator, who is none other than…
Sorry, sorry my mistake. No, this is not Panchito Pistoles, the Lord of Darkness. This is the movie’s take on Allan-a-Dale, voiced by country singer Roger Miller. He tells us that this is the real story of Robin Hood, and not the sanitised propaganda we’ve been spoonfed by the corporate media conglomerates. We get a rather cheap and cheerful credits sequence that pretty much just showcases some of the animation from the movie and isn’t really notable apart from the catchy music played over it by Miller and…holy shit!
Don Bluth? As in Don “legendary animator and creator of such masterworks as Secret of NIMH, An American Tale, Land Before Time, All Dogs go to Heaven and let’s not talk about what came after because it gets increasingly more depressing” Bluth?
No he didn’t, you did!
Bluth had actually worked for Disney before back in the fifties and contributed to Sleeping Beauty. He left and then rejoined the company in the seventies and worked on several pictures during the seventies and eighties before leaving with a large crop of animators to set up rival studio Don Bluth Productions but we’ll get into all that in later reviews. All I’ll say is, for an animator, going from Sleeping Beauty to Robin Hood must have been pretty jarring.
The credits over, we get our first song “Oo-de-Lally“, where Allan narrates a story of Robin Hood and Little John walking through the forest and getting hassled by the man. It’s a lovely, laid back number like almost all the songs in this movie. After escaping from the Sheriff’s wolves, Baloo,
I mean Baloo, I mean Baloo I mean, Little John (Phil Harris) asks Robin if they’re good guys or bad guys.
Robin replies that, while they may technically be outlaws, illegality is not automatically equivalent with immorality and that since they are living in a corrupt tyrannical monarchy where the law has been subverted into a tool for the oppression of the populace it can safely be disregarded and they can basically do whatever the shit they want. I’m paraphrasing slightly. Robin is voiced by Shakespearean actor Brian Bedford, who does a phenomenal job. I might even go so far as to say his Robin Hood is one of my all time favorite Disney leads. He’s witty, charming, cocky without being a douche and the character design is very appealing. There’s a reason this movie is considered a gateway to the furry fandom.
Meanwhile, Prince John (the great Peter Ustinov) is taking his money for a walk through Sherwood forest, accompanied by a platoon of Rhino guards and his royal advisor Sir Hiss (Terry-Thomas). Ustinov is absolutely on fire in the part of Prince John. This is a very light movie, so John is far more comedic than sinister and Ustinov’s delivery is hilarious, He can take a line as simple as “I’ve got a dirty thumb” and make it pant-wettingly funny. And yet, later in the film he does manage to invest Prince John with a certain macabre menace. Ustinov is clearly having a blast with this part. John is trying on his brother’s crown in front of a mirror and loses his temper when Hiss refers to his brother as “King” Richard.
Hiss says that it was a mere “slip of the forked tongue” and the two reminisce how John concocted the plan to get rid of his brother. John bursts out laughing as he remembers how Hiss hypnotised King Richard to leave the country on “that crazy crusade”.
Their conversation then turns to the subject of Prince John’s mother. This causes some kind of psychological break in John as he starts sucking his thumb and muttering that “Mother always did like Richard best.” Hilariously, while the movie obviously plays fast and loose with history (the talking wolves of the period did not have Southern accents) this is actually true. Eleanor of Aquitaine, mother of Richard and John, really did favour Richard.
Hiss, who’s getting kind of freaked out by the whole thumb sucking thing, offers to help John break the habit with hypnosis.
But John’s having none of it and tells Hiss to screw off. Meanwhile, Robin and Little John are getting ready to rob John’s…um…the other John’s coach. They disguise themselves as gypsy fortune tellers and flag down the coach.
Little John thinks it’s a circus procession and when he realises that it’s the Prince himself he almost bails saying “There’s a law against robbing royalty.” Robin stops him in his tracks and cops a feel while he’s at it.
When it comes to fortune telling, Prince John is all over that shit and orders the coach to stop. Hiss is suspicious, saying they might be bandits but Prince John laughs this off because female bandits, as if. Prince John offers them his hands to kiss, which are loaded down with rings and gems.
While Robin tells the Prince’s fortune, Little John helps himself to the cash box. Prince John bursts out of the carriage in his underwear and realises that he’s been robbed, and who can’t relate to that?
Robin and Little John escape into the forest and the Prince’s entourage try to pursue but the wheels fall off Prince John’s coach because Little John stole his utterly pimpin’ solid gold hubcaps.
Meanwhile in Nottingham, the Sheriff is collecting taxes and we see how Prince John’s policies are squeezing the life out of the poor.
The Sheriff is voiced by Pat Buttram, and why yes, he does play this character with an Alabaman accent are you some kind of psychic?
The Sheriff tails Friar Tuck (played by Andy Devine) as he visits Otto the blacksmith to pass on some money from Robin Hood.. Otto is voiced by J. Pat O’Malley with a flawless Cockney accent because Dick Van Dyke can go screw. After shaking Otto down for his lunch money, the Sheriff crashes little Skippy Rabbit’s birthday party and takes his birthday present, a single farthing…
But then Robin arrives, disguised as a blind beggar, to give Skippy his birthday present; a hat, a bow and arrow and a membership in the National Archery Association, which will entitle him to discounts on ammunition including armour-piercing cyanide tipped arrows. It’s in the Magna Carta.
I also love the way, when the beggar reveals himself to be Robin Hood, Skippy’s sister coos “Oh, he’s so handsome!”
I’ve heard of girls being attracted to bad boys, but can we agree that being attracted to dangerous predators is taking things a step too far?
Skippy runs off to play with his
lethal offensive weapon new toy with his two sisters and his friend Toby, a bespectacled, mild-mannered dork who’s constantly being steamrolled by his best friend wait just a damn minute here!
Skippy “accidentally” shoots an arrow into Prince John’s castle grounds.
He sneaks into the castle through the…um…back gate?
And he meets Maid Marian played by Monica Evans, and her chicken in waiting Lady Kluck (Carole Shelley). You may remember from my Aristocats review that I was rather hard on these two actors. One might even say, ungentlemanly. But my problem was not with Evans and Shelley themselves, but with the fact that they were basically reprising their roles from another film. Here, they are both put to much better use. Shelley in particular is hilarious as the Scottish accented Kluck. Marian talks to the children, and they ask her if it’s true that she and Robin Hood were sweethearts. She says that they were, but oh, he probably doesn’t even remember her. He probably doesn’t even realise how much she still thinks about him. Probably doesn’t even know she exists. Certainly doesn’t know that she wakes up every morning caressing her pillow thinking it’s him and then breaking into soft, silent sobbing.
Cut to Robin, burning his soup because he’s thinking of Maid Marian. He confesses to Little John that he’s in love with her, but he can’t bring himself to propose because he’s an outlaw with nothing to offer her except charm, good looks, a killer wit, eyes you can just fall into…
Then Friar Tuck arrives and tells them that Prince John is holding an archery tournament and to the winner goes the greatest prize of all: First Base! Yes, Maid Marian’s lips are all to play for.
Robin disguises himself as a stork and enters the tournament while Little John disguises himself as…
Little John cosies up to Regular Sized John by posing as “Sir Reginald, Duke of Chutney”, and we get a scene of Phil Harris and Peter Ustinov riffing off each other because ours is a loving and benevolent God.
The archery contest starts and it quickly comes down to Robin and the Sheriff of Nottingham. The Sheriff gets a bullseye, and then trips Robin just as he’s taking his shot but Robin manages to correct the arrow’s trajectory by shooting it with another arrow. His arrow actually splits the Sheriff’s on the bullseye and Robin is declared the winner. And a good thing too, because archers can de damn competitive and this could have gone on forever.
But Prince John has seen through Robin’s disguise and has him arrested and sentenced to “sudden, instant and even immediate death.” Marian pleads for his life, saying she loves him and also, shit, he is literally the only other one of her species in this universe so killing him is pretty much genocide. Robin tells Marian he loves her with all his heart, and Prince John feigns compassion but says that traitors to the crown must die. Robin cries out that the crown belongs to King Richard. John goes berserk, does his best Queen of Hearts impersonation and the executioner is summoned.
But at the last minute, Prince John tells the executioner to back off because the
Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come has shown him the error of his ways because Little John sticks a goddamn shiv in his back. Robin is released but the sheriff susses what’s going on and suddenly all hell breaks loose with Robin, Little John and Lady Kluck taking on the rhino guards.
And it is awesome. It’s a fast paced, funny, exciting, fight scene that would have done Errol Flynn proud. And yeah, you read that right, Lady Kluck joins the fray, battling the guards and flooring the sheriff with a perfect judo throw. In fact, Klucky pretty much steals this entire scene, and it’s all great fun until one of the guards grabs her tail and something truly horrific happens:
Robin and Marian escape to the woods and we get our next song Love, song by Nancy Adams. It’s a beautiful, serene love song that in many ways feels like a forerunner of Can You Feel the Love Tonight? from The Lion King. It also helps that Robin and Marian work as a couple. They feel more authentic than, say, Cinderella and the Prince, or Snow White and the Other Prince. Partly this is the performances of Evans and Bedford, but the animation of their body language is superb, and really captures the sense of a young couple in love. Robin takes her back to the camp where all the townspeople have gathered and they have a big old hootenanny to the strains of our next song, The Phoney King of England.
It’s a good song, but this scene is better known for the fact that if it had any more recycling it would be carbon neutral. This is pretty much the most egregious sequence of reusing animation of any movie in the entire canon. In this one sequence (not counting other examples of recycling in the movie) I counted three swipes from The Jungle Book, seven from The Aristocats and eight from Snow White and I could well have missed some. And, to be honest, I normally don’t mind the recycling. I know some people who, when it’s pointed out to them, feel like the movies are “ruined”. I certainly don’t feel like that. Animation is an extremely expensive and time consuming art form so yeah, sometimes they have to cut corners. And hell, it’s not like they’re stealing. It’s their animation. But when it’s this blatant and condensed it does start to rub me the wrong way which is why I will be marking this movie quite harshly on its animation. To give you an idea as to how bad the reuse of animation was during the Scratchy Era, there’s a sequence later in the movie that is a lift from Jungle Book which was in itself originally lifted from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad.
A swipe within a swipe!
The Phoney King of England is so catchy that soon even the sheriff and Sir Hiss are singing it. When Prince John hears them he flies into a rage and crosses the line from everyday villainy to cartoonish super villainy…
…and orders super-quadruple-no-backsies taxes for all!
Cut to a few weeks later and pretty much all of Nottingham is now in jail for non payment of taxes. Allan-a-Dale sings one of my favorite Disney songs, the soulful Not in Nottingham. There’s an aching sadness in this song that’s pretty rare for Disney and Miller absolutely kills.
“We’d up and fly if we had wings for flying/Can’t you see the tears we’re crying?
Can’t there be some happiness for me?/Not in Nottingham.”
In the church, Friar Tuck is ringing the bell for mass, even though (a) no one is coming, and (b) he’s a Friar and Friars don’t say mass, priests do. Oh and (c), there were no Friars at the time this movie is set if you want to be pedantic. And I just counted every instance of animation taken from The Aristocats in this movie so you damn well better believe I want to be pedantic.
The church sextant and his wife donate their last farthing to Friar Tuck’s poorbox, but then the sheriff arrives because as we already know, there’s nothing he loves more than a last farthing.
The sheriff takes the farthing and Friar Tuck just loses his goddamn shit.
But eventually he’s overpowered and he’s led away in chains.
In the palace, Prince John is stewing in a silent rage. Hiss tries to cheer him up, telling him that Friar Tuck is in jail and John explodes that it’s Robin Hood that he wants.
The Prince has an idea.
An awful idea.
The Prince has a wonderful, awful idea.
Prince John tells Hiss that he’s going to lure Robin Hood out of hiding.
By hanging Friar Tuck.
In his disguise as the old beggar man, Robin learns of this plan from the sheriff as he’s constructing the gallows and tells Little John that their only hope is a massive, all or nothing jailbreak slash bankjob with a thrilling climax and maybe some partial nudity and explosions.
They sneak into the castle and Little John busts the prisoners out while Robin goes after the thing that really matters: the money. Robin sneaks into Prince John’s room which has been redecorated in the style of Scrooge McDuck. He then sets up a pulley system and starts ferrying the gold over to the prisoners in the tower over. Prince John wakes up and raises the alarm and the prisoners have to make a run for it. They manage to get out of the castle before the portcullis comes down but Robin is trapped inside.
Robin is cornered by the Sheriff in one of the castle towers. The Sheriff sets the place on fire and Robin has to climb higher and higher to escape the flames until finally, as Little John and Skippy watch in horror, he plunges into the moat.
They think he’s dead.
Turns out he’s not.
Cut to a few weeks letter and Robin and Marian are getting hitched, King Richard has returned home from the Crusade and Prince John, Hiss and the sheriff are breaking rocks in striped pyjamas. Richard (also played by Ustinov) remarks to Friar Tuck that he now has an outlaw for an inlaw. Because…he’s Marian’s…uncle? (Fuck does that work?)
Robin and Marian get in the wedding coach and, to the strains of Love, and they ride off into the sunset.
You know, some have made the point that my system of rating these movies isn’t always fair. I get that sometimes a movie’s final score doesn’t always reflect what my opinion of it seems to be and that by judging the film by the parts, I’m neglecting the sum. That’s probably more true of Robin Hood than any other movie I’ve covered. I absolutely adore this film, and I think it was a very worthy addition to Walt’s legacy, especially when you consider the constraints it was made under. Wolfgang Reitherman and the animators apparently didn’t think much of it, and considered the film to be something of an embarrassment. And it’s true that on an animation level, it’s quite shockingly rough. But I gotta be honest, if it wasn’t for the animation issues, this would be a serious contender for the top spot. See you next time.
So scratchy you want to give a flea bath. What’s that? I recycled that joke? Well, they recycled the animation. Over and over again. A low point in the canon quite frankly.
The Leads: 18/20
As I said, I think Robin is one of the most appealing Disney leads, and Marian is sweet if a little sugary.
The Villains: 16/20
Ustinov is hilarious as Prince John.
Supporting Characters: 16/20
Not the flashiest supporting cast but they’re all remarkably solid, especially Harris’ Little John and Miller’s Allan-a-Dale.
The Music: 17/20
My personal prejudice showing here, I just love the laid back acoustic vibe of this movie’s soundtrack.
FINAL SCORE: 73%
NEXT TIME: We close out the Scratchy Era with The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and wonder if “five” can really be considered “many”. Personally, I think we were gypped.
NEXT REVIEW: February 7th 2013
Love the post as usual, unshavedmouse!
I personally am not a fan of Don Bluth. I don’t love any of his films, even the good ones; but maybe I’m just weird, lol!
Love the David Mitchell snapshot! He’s one of the best British comedians and I love him in “Would I Lie to You” and “QI” appearances.
I love your “Bahia” running gag! If I may ask, did you intend to start this as a running gag? Or did you use it once and then you noticed that it can be applied for future movies?
You gotta love Pat Buttram’s voice! I wish I can do an impression of it, lol!
The climax scene of this movie is probably my favorite scene from the Disney canon. My second would be the wizards’ duel from “The Sword in the Stone”.
In many lists of people who rate the Disney Canon and/or rank the Disney Canon, I see they put this amazing film near the bottom and consider it one of the weaker animated Disney films. And I honestly can’t see why?! I understand the recycled animation is a bit of a problem, but I personally see that as the ONLY flaw with this film and I can forgive it easily. I actually made a post on my site, “My top 13 Favorite Disney Canon Films” (I followed the Nostalgia Critic style and did more than 10) and this was #4 and I talked about this point there as well. Feel free to check it out if you’d like.
All in all, great work!
P.S. I don’t know if you heard, but the NOSTALGIA CRITIC’S COMING BACK! Doug posted a video of him battling with his decision of cancelling the Nostalgia Critic and wanting to resurrect him. In the end, he made up his mind that he’ll bring him back with 3 conditions:
1) It’ll be every 2 weeks instead of every week
2) There’ll be no cut-off date for movies, so newer films are game for him now!
and 3) His first review will be Disney’s “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” which should be expected on February 5th.
Here’s the video link:
Never been a big fan of Don Bluth either. granted, I’ve only watched NIMH, American Tail and Anastasia.
Nice review as always and do agree that this film is rather underrated. It’s very good fun and usually, that’s all a movie needs to be. It does end rather abruptly though, think I would prefer the alternate ending with Robin Hood being injured.
Bluth is an acquired taste, definitely. I think I know why. He made Tar and Sugar movies, incredible sweetness mixed with trauma inducing darkness. The Bahia thing? Completely unplanned like the vast majority of the running jokes. It’s actually my wife who notices most of them. I’m with you, it’s an incredibly underrated film. As for NC coming back? Well, that didn’t take long. Site’s hits must have really taken a hit. Hell, I’m just glad he’s back.
No wonder, Sidereel just doesn’t work.
I didn’t actually see it but I just had a bad feeling from the trailers.
Yeah, Bluth is a story for itself…perhaps you can cover him when you a through with Disney…it’s just too bad that his first movie he did on his own was actually the best, and his work only got worse over the years.
Robin Hood – I always call it the Disney B-Movie. But damn, it is a really good B-Movie, way better than a lot of the high budgets movies. And if you know what the animators had to fight with and how they managed the budget…it’s not just the reuse of animation (not just from other movies, they also reuse the same animation in the same movie…did you ever notice that the star of the Sheriff keeps jumping from left to right? That’s because they simply turned the cells around when he had to walk in another direction), they told the stories with animals because this way they could use character designs from the abandonned project “Reinard Fox”, and towards the very end, they had to cut out a complete scene with Marian caring for the hurt Robin and Richard coming back (that’s the reason she suddenly vanishes in the movie and only comes back for the finale).
Nevertheless, I love this movie. Well, I guess the leads are a little bit bland, basically the hero and the maid, but it helps that they have some sort of past, so they don’t just fall in love with each other, but they longed for each other for years, which is kind of a Disney first. But the fight scene at the tournament is great, and the climax is one of Disney’s best, only rivaled by Sleeping Beauty. First the sneaking around, and then Robin who flees from one danger to the next, this always had me at the edge of my seat. It also has some well dosed darker moments, when they show the pooverty in Nottingham (another Disney first).
I guess, it also works, because they know what was important. They couldn’t do perfect animation on the budget and knew it, but they could do good music and they could do a good dub. The German dub is especially close to my heart. Not only does it have Ustinov too (who was fluent in German), it has freaking Reinard Mey as Allan a Dale – and most likely you have no idea who this is. It’s a German singer (not really folk singer…his music deserves an own category, his text are sometimes political, sometimes full of social critic, but he also sings over simple sings like family….it’s hard to descripe) who is very, very well known here and in France. He started is career in the 60th and decided to retire last year. That’s right, he has been sucessfully on the market for around 50 years! I was on one of his last concert, and it was faszinating to see people of all ages there, enjoying his music together.
Either way, “Robin Hood”, despite being a B-Movie is a special one. I guess, we all got introduced to the Robin Hood legend with it, and it’s really not such a bad way to start.
I honestly think it might get too depressing to do all the Bluths. I’ll think about it.
Welll….you could skip the really, really bad ones….
In one thing he was right, though: Disney needed the challenge to get out of its funk. I guess the movies in the “Dark age of animation” are so – half-assed (with one or two exceptions) and lacking in at least one area (often the animation) is because there was no real competition. Disney always were the ones with the best animation (and if they lost that spot, they made damn sure that they got it back as fast as possible), but during this time, no one else came even close, even though Disney only did what was necessary itself.
I think there are two reasons why I never liked Don Bluth films:
1) I never grew up with them. I’ve only seen his films quite recently in my life.
and 2) When I was younger and learned about him, I developed this naive attitude towards him that he was a “traitor” for leaving Disney and taking many of the animators with him. And I guess this naive thought has stuck with me until now, lol.
Thank you, Mouse, excellent as ever. Robin Hood is probably my favourite Disney movie, although I hadn’t seen (or rather heard) it with its original dub until I was in my twenties. The Dutch dub is pretty good, though. Is it odd that I never realised bits were reused? I’ll need to watch it again–hell, I’ll need to watch all Disney movies again!
As for Bluth…as a child I loved the Secret of NIMH, but when I rewatched it a few years back I thought it was mainly very loud and chaotic. The Nightmare fuel is strong in that one, though, and perhaps that is why I treasure the memory of NIMH and have decided to never watch the movie again. I would love to see you review NIMH, though.
Shall I just say that this is one of the most amazing blogs I have ever seen and my second favourite film blog of all times? I hope you continue to write until the end of days, because your reviews are completely perfect. I feel sentimental just looking at this page.
Shall I just say that is one of the most amazing comments I’ve ever read and I hope you keep reading them until the end of time?
Amen to both statements!
Mind if I make a quick historical note Mouse?
One of the main reasons I love this movie was for its historical accuracy in depicting certain scenes. The birthday scene near the beginning of the movie is of particular note to me because it showcases a law, albeit without saying its name, in that all boys were to be trained in the use of bow and arrow. This was because the ruling class knew that skilled archers could turn the tide of a battle, and that training archers was too time consuming a task to be undertaken during war. By requiring EVERY male of lower class to be trained in Archery, England made sure of its armies victory by having at all times well trained archers.
By giving the kid his first bow and arrow, Robin was telling him, “You are the man of the house.” That’s why little Skippy was so excited. He was no longer the little kid, but recognized as growing up and needing to take on his adult responsibilities.
As for the part that King Richard and Prince Johns mother favoring Richard, again, historically accurate which is so unseen in this day and age, making me love this movie even more. One of my personal favorites I will be sure to share with my children.
That is facinating. I never knew any of that. Thanks!
btw, something else you might not have noticed: If in this world all animals are people…who or what is pulling the carriage at the end?
I assume the elephants that were pulling John’s coach at the beginning.
Then you wouldn’t need anyone up there to stir the coach…and nobody who hold the reins. But Little John does.
Dammit! The whole movie is based on a tissue of lies!
lol But we love it nevertheless, right?
My theory: Little John was just whipping the elephants as revenge for trying to chase him and the Merry Men when they were outlaws.
I know I am in the monitory, but I so not like this film. I think that the characters are bland, the execution of the story could have been a lot better, the plot is good, but not executed well, and the animation is on par with the Aristocats. This film jut seems all over the place to me, and lacks focus. I actually think this is worst than The Aristocats (dodges knives being thrown at me). Nonetheless, great and funny review.
Did you know there was an alternate ending for this movie? In that, Robin Hood actually gets injured when shot at by arrows when he is in the water, and Little John rescues him and runs off with him to the church with the soldiers in hot pursuit. It’s a much darker take on the ending, and I personally wish it had been put in the movie because it gives Marian something more to do and King Richard actually gets more screen time. You can watch it here.
Oh god, I wish they’d used this ending. it would have made the movie a thousand times better. Especially the other characters getting a title and more screentime would’ve been great, too. What a shame!
I have to say I am relieved. After seeing Peter Pan get Peter Panned for Hook’s performance and give the (somewhat) comparable Aristocats a none-too-kind word, this was the review I was scared to pieces over. Not to mention that this seems to be the movie nobody likes. You hardly ever hear of Robin Hood and even official sources, when getting to this movie pretty much introduced it with a “yeah, this one’s lousy”. I was expecting to see Robin Hood ripped apart with similar lack of mercy, so I was delightfully surprised to see you didn’t do so, because this little baby is an all-time family favourite for me. In my household, we’d be hard-pressed to find a line in this movie that doesn’t get quoted at some point. If you ask me, Robin Hood is basically the Disney animated equivalent of the Princess Bride. Minimal polish, bare-bones in terms of budget, brushing the edge of hokey, but more than makes up with lack of spectacle with sheer wit in its script and line delivery alone. I’m so pleased someone else sees it that way as well.
What I’m getting at is, thanks for being easy on this one. I’m quite the fan.
Also, fun fact: Robin Hood’s opening theme was what the Hamster Dance is based on. …Somehow bringing that up makes me start to understand why you hate Jacques and Gus et al so much. Oy.
Little John is pretty similar to Baloo, though I think he and Robin are kind of the reverse side of the coin to Baloo and Bagheera. Both are have Phil Harris with his British straight man partner, but while in the Jungle Book, Bagheera’s the level-headed one who tries to calm Baloo during his shenanigans, Little John is more often warning Robin to watch his daring impulses. It’s a kind of interesting flip which I only noticed the most recent time I watched this movie.
And yes, I think this movie might have the most fun rogues gallery Disney’s got. It’s cool how they took the Sheriff and his forces and gave them a whole Western vibe which surprisingly works even in the English setting. I totally second your opinion on the Prince (another popular quote source for my mother, she seemed to have a liking for quoting power-hungry characters). Though sometimes I wonder what the actual John would say to this portrayal. He’s definitely in some ways pretty contrary to the real John, from what I recall reading, it was actually the upper class who disliked him most (so his literal-smug-snake sir sidekick is a bit ironic) and apparently to him, the worst thing about Richard dying was that he was left with England to take care of. Kind of a flip to have him deliberately usurp the throne. And I can’t be the only one who can’t help but imagine it would have had to be a pretty horrifying for Richard to snap out of the spell however he did and wake up in media res with no recollection of how he got into this battle. Not to mention the turning of tables when the king suddenly forgets his strategy plans. That could’ve cost more than a few lives. Or even more lives if Richard never did snap out of it and just kept fighting until there was nothing left to conquer, then went home. Prince John’s got a pretty high number of indirect deaths caused if you think about it.
I dunno, I think Little John’s main complaint would more likely be not getting to disguise as a female hippo gypsy. Even if that would be the last thing they would be expecting. And I wonder what Princess Merida was busy with back in Scotland to keep her from competing in the archery tournament. Or maybe her family was banned from play after Fergus turned Little John’s gramps into a rug. Yoiks. Also, good thing Little John stopped the execution so he wouldn’t have to personally maul that rhino himself and swear vengeance on his saucy, red-haired calf, forcing her to flee the country to live with her aunt she never knew or heard about.
*cough* Did I mention I think Lady Kluck is awesome? I think she’s one of the earliest female characters with a real edge to her that’s on the good guys’ side. Barring Merryweather, Gotta love how she jumps at the first signs of a chance to give John the big ol’ middle feather. Seriously, she like sasses the sheriff with zero hesitation.
…Wait, what period did the original Robin Hood legend take place in? If it was the same time, what was the friar doing in it there? Also, you forgot to mention that the church didn’t allow baptisms for badgers. Even if you can always bet on them in the fight. As for the heist scene, it cracked me up recently just how thorough Robin was in taking all the gold. Didn’t even leave behind the sack of coins Prince John was using as a pillow. And yeah, I don’t get Marian’s relation to Richard either. Unless John killed her parents in a hate crime and was about to kill her too until the archdeacon stopped him and told him the only way to repent was to take the fox kit in and raise her as his own…
All right, I think I’ve got the recycle bug too. It sure is contagious.
The notion of Maid Marian being the Niece of Richard the Lionheart can be a little off-putting, but if it were by way of second marriage (widowed or annulment of the first) or adoption, then it does manage make sense.
Friar Tuck (even if such a title didn’t exist at the time) when he lost his &%£^, and proved his ability to “Kick Arse for The Lord”, he was actually well within his Rights to force the Sheriff out of his Church after his theft from the Poor Box, but continued to attack him AFTER he was out of the building, at which point he could legally arrest him for assaulting an ‘Upholder’ of the Law.
My main gripe with this movie though, is that recently, I worked out that if Maid Marian was removed from the movie in her entirety, it, wouldn’t really affect the flow of it. Seriously, she did so little, and wasn’t even in the third act! Just one reason that earlier-linked Alternate Ending is something I wish had happened. It’s a shame because, there’s so much potential that wasn’t realised, as this can attest to: http://img03.deviantart.net/d297/i/2012/011/4/8/twisted_princess__maid_marian_by_jeftoon01-d4m2l53.jpg
Just imagine if Robin met her!
I actually only noticed the heavy recycling of Animation very recently (though I think what they really reused was the previously made Rotoscoping which was used to help make the animation more realistic) but you’re right in that the VAs and Music make up for the lacklustre Animation.
All in all. A flawed movie for me, but enough upshots to make up for them.
Church “Sextant”?? I know Disney had lost its way a bit, and could stand for some guidance. But I think you meant “Sexton” (or the old spell-check bit you).
Love the reviews, but felt like I should mention that the term “gypped” is an ethnic slur.
I can’t believe that I never made a reply to this review!
I have to go with the majority here and say “Robin Hood” is a real gem in the Disney canon, no matter how flawed the animation is. It is even sursprisingly dark at times for being a quite light-hearted Scratchy Era movie. There are plenty of hints, that Robin was lucky to not be executed by Prince John. And it becomes almost painful to watch how people end up in jail just for not being able to pay the extremely high taxes.