1 The Mickey Mindset: Disney Animation Reviews #21: Robin Hood

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Disney Animation Reviews #21: Robin Hood

Disney Movie Review: 21/53 - Robin Hood

Robin Hood (1973) is one of the most surprising features in the Disney animation canon. As only the second animated film to be produced without the help of Walt Disney, Robin Hood ultimately works as one of the best animated features of this in-between period for Disney animation.

The film is a terrific amount of fun almost from start to finish. It borrows quite a bit from The Jungle Book in its look and design and even some in its humor. Perhaps the biggest inspiration Robin Hood took from The Jungle Book is its reliance on brilliant voice acting. While not as great as The Jungle Book, Robin Hood's cast of voice actors is wonderful. The great comedian Peter Ustinov breathes wonderful life into Prince John, Phil Harris is back for his third Disney feature in a row as Little John, and at least a dozen other wonderful voice artists contribute to the piece.

Prince John is the film’s greatest asset. He is a whiny, stupid, blustering fool. As a villain, he doesn’t inspire much fear, but as pure entertainment he is magnificent. A lot of this can be contributed to Peter Ustinov, who gave himself completely to the role. Ustinov’s voice is already cartoony so it is the perfect fit for Robin Hood.

Two other standout characters are Maid Marian and Lady Cluck. Marian is a delightful Disney female with personality and wit. She and Robin Hood make for a wonderful team and the most believable Disney couple since Lady and the Tramp. Lady Cluck, Marian’s lady-in-waiting, is a loud, boisterous, hilarious woman. She is involved in some of the film’s funniest scenes and is one of the most memorable characters.

There are so many fun characters in Robin Hood that it’s hard to mention them all. The Sheriff of Nottingham is brilliantly wicked, Sir Hiss is a wonderfully put-upon sidekick, Friar Tuck is snarky and fierce, Little John is magnificent as Phil Harris kills it once again, and even Robin Hood himself is exciting and engrossing. The large cast of widely enjoyable animal characters is probably Robin Hood's greatest trait, but at times it feels like there are a few too many characters to focus on just a few.

Many sequences of the film are a true comedic blast. The archery sequence and subsequent craziness is one that really stands out—complete with a football parody! The song and dance sequence, “The Phony King of England,” is jivey and awesome but relies heavily on obviously recycled animation. (Well, maybe it’s only obvious because I’ve recently watched every film before Robin Hood.)

Overall, though, Robin Hood is an exciting, fast-paced, under-appreciated gem. The music is lovely, the characters are a blast, and the story keeps you interested from the get-go. Robin Hood is great fun and a wonderful animated piece.

3.5/5 Golden Arrows

1 comment:

  1. YES! Thank you! Finally, someone else who recognizes how underappreciated Robin Hood is!