“Are we good guys or bad guys? You know, our robbing the rich to feed the poor?”
“Rob? That’s a naughty word – we never rob. We just … sort of borrow a bit from those who can afford it.”
“Borrow? Boy, are we in debt.”
“Quick!” cried the Editor. “I need another review! Three days ago!”
“Bother.” I sighed. “I haven’t watched or read anything new recently.”
So, with the air of scraping the bottom of the barrel, I dived (dove?) into my DVD pile and managed to extract a slightly worn copy of Robin Hood.
Now, the trouble with Robin Hood is that it’s a highly well-known folk tale and it’s been remade and reworked about a hundred different times.
In this case, however, I am referring to the Disney animated classic, which turned Robin Hood and Maid Marian into foxes, Little John into a bear, Friar Tuck into a badger, the Sheriff into a wolf, and King Richard and Prince John into lions. I’m still not entirely sure how two lions managed to end up with a fox as a niece (I’m assuming she’s not John’s daughter, from the way he speaks to her), but it’s Disney, so we’ll go with it.
King Richard has left England for the Crusades and left the country in the hands of his brother, Prince John. But John is spoiled and greedy, and has raised taxes so high that the people of England have almost no quality of life.
In Sherwood Forest, just outside Nottingham, Robin Hood and his friend, Little John (who’s not so little), have rebelled against the oppressive rule and vowed to help the poor people by stealing back what is rightfully theirs. Meanwhile, in the castle, Maid Marian waits for her childhood sweetheart (Robin) to return to her, not entirely convinced he will, but her lady-in-waiting, Lady Cluck (a kindly and motherly hen), assures her will do so one day (“Rest assured, my dear – one day your uncle, King Richard, will have an outlaw for an in-law”).
Throw in an archery competition gone wrong, an even steeper rise in taxes, and a prison break, and you have an hour and a half of hilarity, as Prince John, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Sir Hiss (John’s cowardly serpentine advisor) try ever more desperately to get the better of Robin, only to be thwarted at every turn.
Whilst not the first animated film released by Disney after Walt Disney’s death in 1966, it was only the second or third, and as such received a very small budget. A keen Disney fan can easily spot places where storyboards have been reused from films such as Snow White, The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians and The Aristocats. Likewise, some of the background music at the archery tournament sounds very similar to the fanfare music from Sleeping Beauty.
It’s also a very good movie to play one of my favourite games – Where Have I Heard That Voice Before? Disney is well-known for reusing voice actors, and this film is no exception. The voices of Little John, the Sheriff, Trigger (a vulture), and both church mice will be very familiar to Disney fans.
From a moral standpoint, I find it a very interesting film, but then the story in general is interesting in that aspect. There are many shows and films in which we find ourselves drawn to the ‘bad guy’ (I’m thinking of Regina Mills in Once Upon a Time and Loki in Thor), but Robin Hood makes the ‘bad guy’ the ‘good guy’. Whichever way you look at it, legally Robin Hood and his friends are stealing, yet they are portrayed as the heroes in the picture. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m with them all the way on this.
It just makes for an interesting discussion with children – especially when that child is my little brother and wants to know why we can’t do the same thing with the current government. I told him our government wasn’t practically stealing from us, and then realised that irritating noise in the background was somebody on the radio arguing that they were doing exactly that.
Anyway, now I’ve successfully gone off topic for a few paragraphs and pulled the word count up a bit (and done an impression of Winnie the Pooh in my head), I’ll return to my original point, which was: Why Grown-Ups Should Try Disney’s Robin Hood.
It’s simple, it’s fun, it’s a bit of a laugh – they use slapstick comedy to great effect – and the main villain throws tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. They even write a song about it.
“He calls for Mom and sucks his thumb… he doesn’t want to play.”
It’s not an intellectually stimulating film, aside from the aforementioned moral dilemma, but sometimes you don’t want intellect. You just want entertainment, and this delivers.
“Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly what a day …”
Roxanne Williams (forgot to send in her byline again and is getting a stern look from the Editor)