All I can say is: a movie that jokes about the Kennedy assassination is straining for laughs.
In the film, Mel Brooks tells the familiar story of Robin Hood, with his standard twists and gags. His use of ethnic stereotypes, which he used to great effect in his other films, go woefully awry here. Dave Chappelle, as the standard black fool, a Muslim named Achoo, actually riffs on (and cheapens) Malcolm X's "You've been bamboozled" speech. Richard Lewis is execrable as Prince John. There are plenty of "funny" anachronisms -- like pump-up sneakers and rental horses -- that I found obvious and unfunny. As was the appearance of Brooks as an Orthodox Rabbi carrying a guillotine-shaped circumcision machine. It's been a long time since rabbis and "tip" jokes were cutting edge. (Sorry!)
But nothing screams "Brooks has lost his edge!" than the JFK joke. At one point a bad guy is taking aim at Robin with a crossbow from the window of a tower labeled "Ye Olde Booke Depository." Even after nearly 50 years, this was appalling. Too soon, Mel, too soon.
"Men in Tights" is a long and mostly unfunny collection of stale and obvious gags. This would have been great summer video made by your high school buddies, but it is pathetic from one of America's former comic geniuses. Deserves an arrow in the can.
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