(Wolfgang Reitherman, 1973)Oodelally! (sp? edit, much later: just checked, and Corndog spells it Oo-da-lolly... lol!)
What fun, what joy! This film is completely irreverent towards everything you thought you knew about Robin Hood:
Guy of Guisborne? - Who needs him?
Other merry men, apart from Little John? - What, there were others?
Everybody should speak with English accents, as this is England after all? Pfft, who cares?
The music should match the setting? - Humbug, we'll introduce this character, he's a rooster, and he's going to narrate parts of the story in American country-folksy songs!
And it all works magnificently. The songs are catchy, the animation is absolutely beautiful, and the first half of the film is very, very funny. Best of all, it's funny in many different ways: you get the silly, hilarious word-play, the simple, laugh-out-loud slapstick, and
the really clever kind of humour that comes from drawing very distinct characters in very few but extremely effective strokes.
My favourite character by far was Prince John - greedy, megalomaniac, ridiculous, thumb-sucking, pathetic Prince John who is just a few sizes too small for the grand crown of England.
His side-kick Sir Hiss is another magnificent invention - the snake-related humour and word-play is as imaginative and delightfully silly as the material relating to Prince John. What's brilliant about the film, though, is that you can choose to understand all the humour as metaphors about power, greed and slithery slyness, or you can simply choose to revel in the sheer fun of it all.
For me, the film started to run out of steam a bit just as it headed into its second half. There, the action picks up as we are getting from the more plot and character-oriented scenes into the more action-y prison-break-and-heist part of the story. I understand why the film would want to mix up its tone here and there to keep all parts of the audience entertained, but I was missing the cleverness and charm of the first half of the film so much that it affected my overall enjoyment of it.
I was wondering whether this minor problem (a second half of a film that feels more like "just stuff happening" after an amazingly clever first half) was something that animated films were particularly susceptible to, considering that this issue has come up in relation to animated films before (the more recent examples that came to my mind were, of course, Wall-E
, both of which I loved but against both of which I had this same minor reservation), or if that was just a coincidence. Well, I haven't even begun to answer that question in relation to all the other animated films I've watched and loved, because, as I said, it is a minor complaint and by no means spoils the tremendous fun that is to be had here.
Bottom line: films like Robin Hood
exist to charm you off your feet, make you laugh and leave a big smile on your face for hours afterwards. Mission accomplished, thanks Corndog!