I asked you why you count Robin Hood as your favourite Disney film, and sure enough its fans emerged in the comments section. As it is entirely sensible to never read comments online, I thought I would post them as an article, as many of the points were very valid and well expressed. Enjoy a more positive spin on the film than I gave it.
Mark J. Hansen
Nostalgia is a key factor in my enjoyment as well. I watched and re-watched this one so much as a kid I can recite whole scenes verbatim. But as you said, the hero is likeable if a little bland, and the villain is terrific. Peter Ustinov’s choices in his line readings are memorable and bizarre. As others have mentioned, the music still holds up as well. I particularly like “Not in Nottingham,” which is classic Roger Miller Balladry. And lest we forget the scat intro gave birth to the inexplicably popular Hamsterdance (my apologies, you can actually go back to forgetting about that.)
Personally, Robin Hood doesn’t come close to my top 10 disney films. I only watched it once or twice growing up so it doesn’t hold the same nostalgia for me as The Lion King or Hercules.
However, my sister is in love with Robin Hood. She loved the legend being portrayed by animals and found the characters charming. In addition, the music (as with many/if not all disney films) held a good amount of the appeal.
Annoyingly, despite my lack of love for the film, Oh de lally is still a remarkably catchy and fun song. I was surprised that music didn’t feature in your review.
Ah yes, Disney’s Robin Hood. The film itself is in my top 30 of all time favourite films, along with Drive, In Bruges, The Great Dictator and Blade Runner. I’ve not really given much thought as to why this is, except that I enjoy it tremendously. So, this would be the first time I would give a reason.
Nostalgia and charm definitely play a big part. Whereas the animation templates being reused from The Jungle Book is definitely lazy animating, I rather like it. The whole series of The Aristocats, The Jungle Book and Robin Hood are one big happy memory in my head – and the similarities in animation probably help that. From a child’s perspective, the familiarity of seeing old friends in new ones rather endears the characters. Lazy animation, but a jolly effective way of making a sequel without being a sequel, for kids.
I’m surprised you didn’t mention anything about the music. Oo De Lally is definitely a stand out one, but what The Jungle Book did for blues and jazz, Robin Hood does for folk. I think the understated quality of the songs make it one of the most effective of all Disney soundtracks, which have a tendency of being a bit overdramatic.
You adressed Robin as a good character, largely because of the pre-existing myth, rather than any addition that the film makes. However, I think the whole array of characters keeps me thoroughly entertained. From Friar Tuck and the Sheriff of Nottingham to Robin Hood and King John, they all have moments to shine and by the end of it are revealed as fairly complex characters. King John, in particular, though rather condescendingly, is shown to have parental issues which drive him to his cruelty. It’s all done in jest and child-friendly ways, but in the end they are quite sophisticated for a children’s film.
As you mentioned, the stand out voice acting is done by Peter Ustinov – making King John perhaps one of the most enjoyable Disney villains. And again, considerably more layered than others. But really it’s Ustinov that makes the character and I would probably put him in alongside Jeremy Irons as one of the most memorable performances for a villain.
The script. It’s jolly well written. That will do.
I’ll let you know if there is anything else I can think of.
I think the (as yet unfulfilled) desire to be able to whistle like the rooster was a big reason I went back to it time and time again. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGq53ArYFSw
Also, the extensive use of the phrase ‘Oo De Lally’
The Animation Commendation
I disagree with you that the majority of people love this movie/claim it’s on their favorites list. I love this movie, but most of the people I meet disagree with me.
Oh, it’s definitely warm-fuzzy nostalgia for me. I look at it now and cringe a bit at how lackluster much of it actually is, but… the Alan A-Dale song! Peter Ustinov! I just can’t not love this movie, rough edges and all.
It has an indefinable quality of greatness where everything comes together *perfectly*. The characters are brilliantly written and voiced and it’s packed full of great lines – “Hith! Hith!” is enough to make me laugh my head off for five minutes. The songs are terrific and it has an emotional punch that’s often underrated – when the villagers are crippled by taxes and Friar Tuck erupts in rage, that always strikes me as a really powerful moment, and the climax is hugely exciting.
But if I had to really boil it down to an essential quality – it’s the songs, the voicework and the jokes.
Nostalgia is definitely one of the big reasons I love it so much.
But also, probably the most likeable Robin there has ever been (Who doesn’t love a fox in a hat?!)