Pic marks a return to the wild, anarchic scatological comedies that made Mel Brooks a marquee name around the world. It is a film for both his diehard fans and a new generation who know Mad Mel only from legend. In 1975 he covered the territory in the television series When Things Were Rotten. Here he has managed to mangle the legend so that it essentially resembles his biggest hit, Blazing Saddles.
Tale involves nobleman Robin of Loxley (Cary Elwes), who ventures with King Richard to the Crusades. He escapes and returns to England, where he finds the kingdom in disarray in the hands of Prince John (Richard Lewis) and his evil henchman, renamed here the Sheriff of Rottingham (Roger Rees). Adopting outlaw ways, Robin also finds romance with Maid Marian (Amy Yasbeck).
Friar Tuck has been reinvented for Brooks to play as Rabbi Tuckman, and the characters include a black foreign-exchange student and plenty of anachronistic modern references.
The manic ensemble is grounded by Elwes’ virtually straight-faced interpretation of Robin with a glib assuredness that hits the target dead center. Rather slier is Yasbeck’s Marian, who gets great comic effect from being the girl too good to be true. The supporting cast features many members of Brooks’ stock company.