So I went to see “Robin Hood” this weekend. Despite perfect casting, beautiful scenery and the fact that Russell Crowe really is ridiculously good-looking, Ithought it was pretty mediocre. I also thought it was a two-hour setup for a sequel. And by and large, I’m not wild about people being shot in the neck with arrows.
But mostly, I just thought it didn’t hold a candle to the original. And no, I don’t mean “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” (which is also excellent). I mean the original, the 1973 animated version in which Robin Hood is a fox.
The entire cast is made up of animals: King John is a maneless, mangy lion, Little John an affable bear, and the Sheriff of Nottingham something that, looking back now, seems to be a wolf-bear hybrid, or maybe some kind of overweight, upright weasel. In any event, it’s something dark and mean, and the point is easily understood. Maid Marianne, of course, is also a fox, since any interspecies hanky-panky was far too risquéfor Disney back then.
People always seem surprised when I tell them Robin Hood is my favorite Disney movie. I loved The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid (the first movie I ever saw in theaters) remains an indelible part of my childhood, but Robin Hood was just terrific.
It’s accessible, funny, and has the advantage of showing fewer people being shot in the neck with arrows. In fact, even the king’s armies (elephants and rhinoceroses) seem dopey, but not actually all that threatening, and usually do things like slam headfirstinto rocks or trip over their ears.
Plus, it has this ditty. I dare you not to sing along:
If there’s one thing a star-studded Hollywood blockbuster doesn’t want to do, reminding viewers that the 35-year-old animated version in which the main character is played by a fox is better is probably high on the list.