Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Robin Hood, Men in Tights (1993) and Dracula, Dead and Loving It (1995)

Robin Hood, Men in Tights (1993)

Robin of Loxley has returned to England after fighting in the Holy Land, and find that his family is dead and is property seized by the government. The corrupt Prince John has ruled = in his brother's stead, raising taxes to the extreme, and oppressing the people. Determined to fight back against these injustices, Robin must build together a team and =...

Robin Hood, Men in Tights is one of comedy legend Mel Brooks later movies, and while it's not as good as his older classics, it's still a great time!

The plot   though some  feel a bit  such as the battle at the halfway point. It's great, but it's so decisive you wonder how the villains are still active! Besides that things move along well enough, with enough tension and =, often broken up in amusing ways, like Robin getting another chance in the = context because it says so in the script.

As a parody, this hilariously skewers then-recent Prince of Thieves (but in a nice way, never meanly), while also spoofing Robin Hood lore in general, not sticking to just one version. As a film it also stands on its own, too. Some parodies really only make sense in context, but this is just as good even if you haven't seen Prince of Thieves, and not having seen that doesn't mean you've missed anything (or at least, I hope not, 'cause I've not seen it either!).

The comedy in Men in Tights is mostly really effective! There's various types of jokes, with a heavy (not not too forced) fourth wall breaking habit, cultural references, and all manner of other things. Not all the jokes land for me, and some of them reallly felt =, but at its worst moments, the movie's just a little cringey. It's made with such a fun spirit that it's infectious. This is even more apparent when you watch the behind the scenes featurette and see how much fun everyone has on a Mel Brooks set. It's all so good-natured.

The movie is not only funny, but it's really quotable! Sooo many lines here have imprinted themselves on/in my memory, and I could probably recite half the script to you!

Quite the packed movie, this is also a musical, with four numbers, and they're great fun, from the surprisingly neat mix if a hip-hop tune with a 'Hey nonny' one, to the = Men in Tights song, the sappy and overdramatic (yet also kinda sincere!) romance Marian, and the = opera crooning The Night is Young.

The acting is a highlight. Cary Elwes has great comedic timing and a handsome charm as Robin Hood. It's the role he was born to play! Still definitely his most memorable performance next to The Princess Bride. Roger Rees is deliciously evil as the Sheriff of Rottingham, while Richard Lewis is amusingly neurotic as Prince John. Dave Chappelle, Mark Blankfield, and Eric Allan Kramer, et all, do fine jobs, amusing in various ways. Amy Yasbeck is an adorable love interest, while Megan Cavanagh is great as Broomhilda. And lastly, Tracey Ullman is = as the witch Latrine, and Mel Brooks is fun in his role of Rabbi Tuckmann.

Dracula, Dead and Loving It (1995)

Real estate agent Thomas Renfield visits the mysterious Count Dracula, secretly a vampire, and is hypnotised into becoming his slave. They journey to England, where he begins feeding on innocent young Lucy Westenra, and her friends and family must figure out how to stop this terrible affliction, and put a stop to the demonic Dracula  before it's too late...

Dracula, Dead and Loving It is another highly enjoyable outing from Brooks! His last film to date, it's well worth that distinction. Upon its release it wasn't

Where this really succeeds is in how expertly everything is placed together! The look and atmosphere of the film is convincing, and =! That's how you know the mark of a good parody. If you take out all the comedy, do you get a convincing vampire film?

The story is your typical adaption of Dracula, familiar enough to be =, while doing enough of its own thing to feel unique. It adapts certain scenes from the book (or other versions) very well, and honestly some of these wouldn't be out of place in an old Hammer Horror if this was played straight! Meanwhile, the comedic = work great too. Just like how Young Frankenstein looked at serious scenes like the dinner with the blind man and said 'What if he were really clumsy?', Dead and Loving it also takes = scenes from the book and turns them on their head, in a way that's both faithful to the source material while also wickedly funny.

One area where I feel the movie really succeeds as an authentic Gothic film and Dracula adaption is in how it's a chamber piece.

Leading into the set design, it's fantastic! From the Transylvanian village, to Dracula's castle, Dr. Seward's asylum, and Carfax Abbey, etc, there are many great locations, each distinctive and evocative.

Dead and Loving it is a hilarious time! There's good balance of all kinds of humor. Direct parody, wordplay, slapstick, absurdist, etc. There are a few setpieces, and these are fabulous, from the big ballroom dance, where the reflection-less Dracula dances with Mina by a mirror, or the staking of Lucy, which might be the best moment in the film. The lunch with Dr. Seward and Renfield is great too.

The acting in Dracula, Dead and Loving It is great. Leslie Nielsen is used sparingly as Dracula, appearing plenty, and definitely the film's true lead, but not hogging the limelight so much that any mystique of Dracula is lost. Peter MacNicol is hilarious as the insane Renfield, getting many of the film's best moments. Steven Weber is funny as the repressed Johnathan Harker, while Harvey Korman is a great straight man, getting many goofy moments but delivering them with such a straight face. Amy Yasbeck and Lysette Anthony are funny and gorgeous as the two = babes Mina and Lucy, =. And lastly, Mel Brooks is a lot of = as Van Helsing, almost sounding like Inspector Clouseau with his accent. The film operates with a small cast, which works in its favour. We get to know everyone onscreen well, and =.

The music here is another element that works. Effective as both a sincere Gothic score, as well as amusingly overdramatic in some scenes, lending = to the comedy of some scenes.

While Dracula Dead and Loving it may not have been warmly received upon its original release, time has been kind to it, and if you're in the mood for a good old fashioned vampire romp, this is the movie for you!...

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