Robin Hood
Rating -

Animated (US); 1973; Rated G; 83 Minutes

Roger Miller: Allan-A-Dale
Brian Bedford: Robin Hood
Monica Evans: Maid Marian
Phil Harris: Little John
Andy Devine: Friar Tuck
Carole Shelley: Lady Kluck
Peter Ustinov: Prince John
Terry-Thomas: Sir Hiss
Pat Buttram: Sheriff
George Lindsey: Trigger
Ken Curtis: Nutsy

Produced by Wolfgang Reitherman; Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman; Screenwritten by Larry Clemmons

Review Uploaded

Written by DAVID KEYES

Take notice that Disney's animated version of "Robin Hood" gets three stars. There are three main reasons why it gets this rating; one, the film is more memorable than the previous animated features, "The Jungle Book" and "The Aristocats"; two, it has touches of humor, which those previous films severely lacked; and three, the film follows a uniquely built plot, which is severely modified from the original (as I've heard) to suit and entertain its target audience: children.

Because I enjoyed "Robin Hood" more than the other animated features of that time, I give it three stars, instead of the regular two-and-a-half stars that "The Jungle Book" and "The Aristocats" deserved. This does not necessarily mean that "Robin Hood" is a great film, but it doesn't mean it's standard Disney, either.

It's good for that time period from which the Disney studios were struggling to make good animated pictures. "The Jungle Book," and "The Aristocats," two predecessors of the genre, were severely weak in the department, and were not the studios best efforts. "Robin Hood," perhaps, is an improvement because the studio may have been aware more of what they were doing.

The film, taken from the famous legend, is indeed "Disney-fied," and is told through the point of view of animals. The film also has a singing narrator, who performs songs at moments when the plot seems somewhat climactic. These scenes grab our attention, especially when the picture is in the same mood as its songs.

For example, this narrator, who is a rooster voiced by Roger Miller, sings a song about how Nottingham will never have happiness again. This sad tune is performed when the day is rainy, and everyone is in jail for not paying taxes.

Scenes like this are upsetting for little children, and it's with these intentions why "Robin Hood" stands out from the other animated features of that era, though the film does lack the fun and memorable charm of an animated classic.

You obviously remember the original story. Robin Hood, the outlaw of England, robs the rich to feed the poor, during the time of which King Richard is off on a crusade and his brother, Prince John, usurps the crown.

The film needs Robin Hood as much as it needs the narrator--they are the most important characters, and a loss of either one of them would modify the story so greatly that it just wouldn't be Robin Hood. I don't know if the narrator was in the original novel, but if he wasn't than I can sense why people say there is a huge difference between the movie and the real story.

Robin Hood himself is well voiced by Brian Bedford. He ranks as one of the top Disney heroes, because his overall performance as a needed-outlaw is very well demonstrated, and the film sets him up not only as the main character, but as a brave soul, capable of nearly anything.

In one scene, for example, he dresses as a beggar, and approaches the Sheriff of Nottingham to learn that at dawn, Prince John is going to have Friar Tuck, the man of the church, hung for treason to the crown. Robin then vows to prevent it from happening.

He doesn't know, however, that hanging Friar Tuck is actually a trap to capture him as well. Still, even after figuring this plot out, he risks everything to save the Friar's skin, as well as everyone else who is in jail for not paying taxes. He doesn't come unprepared, either: he takes all the necessary precautions to save his skin as well.

If more male characters were as heroic and wise as Robin Hood, today's animated features, like "Aladdin," would have been better. Aladdin, for example, didn't think before he jumped into battle. His character was just as foolish as his name. Why, for example, would he ever challenge Jafar with a sword, when he knew the Genie (as well as the others) couldn't help him, and Jafar was an invincible sorcerer at the time?

Like so many animated films, "Robin Hood" also comes with comedy relief. Most of the humor, however, doesn't come with any of the main characters, but rather, the two villains: Prince John and Sir Hiss, a lion and a snake. Prince John's plots to capture Robin Hood, as said by his assistant, Hiss, are foolish and a waste of time. He exclaims "I tried to tell you this would happen, but no no no, you wouldn't listen!" These lines come up after John's plots backfire, and instead of admitting that he was wrong, he hits Hiss with whatever objects are around. These scenes are funny, especially when Hiss brings up that John just ruined one of his mother's possessions.

You see, Prince John, earlier in the film, told Hiss that he was somewhat neglected from his mother, and anytime someone mentions her, he calls "Mommy!" and sucks his thumb. And he does--all the time.

These scenes are very funny when they occur, because they occur more than once, and once we are used to them occurring, we can't wait until they happen again. It's really funny, watching a grown lion like John, calling for "Mommy," and sucking on his thumb. That stuff is just plain cute and funny.

The story, as most argue, follows none of the original that well, mainly because the picture is filmed with animals instead of humans in the character roles. Children, however, like watching animals more than humans, and I think maybe Disney preferred the idea of animals in human roles, because little kids are mainly the ones who like these films. There is nothing wrong with modifying the story and the characters, because children, of which the movie is aimed at, will understand and enjoy it better.

Think about it: would you rather watch humans or animals in an animated picture? Animals are more cuter and more memorable than human characters. In fact, most Disney classics are those that feature animals.

Animals in movies are more enjoyable for little kids, and for that reason, I feel "Robin Hood" with thoroughly entertain them. For the adult audience, however, "Robin Hood" might just seem pleasant rather than fantastic. Still, the film is playful, cute, and very fun, and that will be enough for kids. Though the movie is no Disney classic, it's still a worthy effort.

1998, David Keyes, Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
All published materials contained herein are owned by their respective authors and cannot be reprinted, either in their entirety or in selection, without the expressed written consent of the writers.