The rapid-fire, rat-a-tat-tat dialogue; the arch, patrician accents; and acting that seems stilted and false can make it hard for younger viewers to enjoy a film like this one. But if they stick it out, they'll be treated to a great story, some unintentionally funny moments, and a window into a distinctly 1930s American sensibility. What's fascinating about The Adventures of Robin Hood is that it's less a sweet and cartoonish fairy tale than a thinly veiled attack on American capitalism and an absentee leader. When the king returns in disguise and asks Robin whom he blames for the chaos in England, he says, "I blame Richard. His task was here at home defending his own people instead of deserting them to fight in foreign lands." You can't get much more transparent than that.
And the whole robbing-from-the-rich-giving-to-the-poor thing couldn't be clearer: "To them this is heaven," Robin explains to Marion after ambushing the royal entourage and taking their riches and giving them to the starving Saxons. "Suits for rags, kindness instead of riches, limitless food instead of hunger. Why, they're actually happy." It's hard to imagine a blockbuster movie today offering such lofty sentiments. Politics aside, it's a rare action movie that doesn't take itself too seriously, and that definitely adds to the fun here. Even during fight scenes, the music is light and upbeat. Compared to other man-against-his-government films such as the dour Shooter, Robin Hood is refreshing. And don't forget to enjoy the costumes -- it's delightful that in Medieval England, Marion still manages to float through Sherwood Forest in a collection of silk, lamé, satin, and chiffon ball gowns.