Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis, Amy Yasbeck, Roger Rees, Dave Chappelle

Marvelously funny even for those who didn't see the film it hilariously parodies—199l's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves—this Mel Brooks comedy is one sprightly spoof.

Elwes plays Robin with an élan reminiscent of Errol Flynn, even while he is sending up the role. But Brooks, as usual directing, cowriting and co-starring, homes in most devastatingly on the Kevin Costlier variation. When comic Lewis, entertainingly playing Prince John as a neurotic lop, asks Robin why the peasantry will listen to him, Elwes draws himself up in full Costnerian righteous indignation and says, "Unlike some other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent!" (And he can, too.) Similarly, inveterate scoundrel Rees, as a hyperactive Sheriff of Rottingham, gnashes his lines and mugs relentlessly, à la Thieves's Alan Rickman. Yasbeck, who plays Marian, looks like Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and acts with the same dependency on big-eyed stares and flowing curls. Brooks benches Friar Tuck, substituting himself as Rabbi Tuckman. And Patrick Stewart of Star Trek: The Next Generation sends up Sean Connery's Princely cameo as King Richard, even affecting a decently Conneryish burr.

Brooks and his sharp cowriters, Evan Chandler and J. David Shapiro, toss in haphazard gibes at such risible phenomena as mimes ("A mime is a terrible thing to waste"), the Atlanta Braves' Tomahawk Chop, the anti-car-theft device The Club (used here to secure a knight's horse) and circumcision (Rabbi Tuckman's specialty).

Other than using an obvious line based on confusion between "merry" and "gay" men, and displaying an obsession with penis jokes and a chastity-belt sequence, Brooks & Co. never lapse in taste or go for easy jokes.

There are plenty of movies around these days for those who like their entertainment bloody and sex-crazed, but anyone in a mood for a hearty laugh couldn't do better than this. (PG-13)"

Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Michelle Burke

Nope, it doesn't really work, this transfer of the classic Saturday Night Live sketch to the big screen. Too bad. On television, the adventures of Beldar Conehead (Aykroyd) and wife Prymaat (Curtin), two pointy-topped aliens from planet Remulak who have settled down in suburbia, were silly and charming. And very low rent—surely part of the joke were the the cumbersome, phony looking cones jammed onto Aykroyd and Curtin's heads.

For the movie, directed by Steve Barron, the stars' headdresses are now nicely designed prosthetic pieces; elaborate sets and backdrops flesh out the planet Remulak; and a few other intergalactic special effects have trickled down from Close Encounters. Such high-tech touches, however, weigh down Coneheads and the Coneheads themselves. Curtin's voice, a deadpan android drone, has a nice hummingbird warble to it, but Aykroyd's strange, hollow-eyed gaze makes him look unnervingly like Zippy the Pinhead. And Burke, as their daughter, Connie, is as boring as any other Hollywood ingenue. (It's a shame that Laraine Newman, who played the part on SNL, is relegated to a small role as Curtin's sister.)

Coneheads' supporting cast of other SNL players, past and present, is much funnier: You have Jon Lovitz as a dentist, David Spade as an immigration investigator, Julia Sweeney as a high school principal, Chris Farley as Burke's earthling boyfriend and—quite wonderful, really—Jan Hooks as a somewhat tatterdemalion seductress with a yen for men with high foreheads. (PG)"

Mike Myers, Nancy Travis

This black comedy, Myers's first movie since hitting the jackpot with Wayne's World last year, is the definition of tepid. It is never especially funny, but neither is it so spectacularly stupid that it's worth the spit it would lake to make spitballs to lob at the screen. Myers and Travis meet when he, a poet-performance artist with no apparent day job, stops by her shop, Meats of the World, to buy some haggis as a gift for his Scottish-immigrant parents. Love blooms, but soon Myers finds himself suspecting that Travis just may be the bride who, according to a story he reads in a tabloid, has murdered three husbands. Will he be No. 4?

The answer to the question is of little consequence given the high nincompoop quotient of the characters. Myers is aggressively cute, and Travis seems without a clue as to whether she should be menacing or adorable or both. The movie does have its occasional moments—mostly when Myers is playing his own father, a Scottish blowhard given to singing "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" in the thickest of brogues—but they don't come often enough. (PG-13)"

Donald Sutherland, Amy Irving

In this plodding, predictable thriller, Irving plays a single mother barely making a go of it as a waitress in a small-town topless bar in Arizona. Her father (Sutherland), released from prison after being convicted (largely on his daughter's testimony) 22 years ago of killing his wife, returns to town intent upon creating again a family for himself with Irving and her son (Rider Strong). He tells her she was mistaken about what she thought she saw that night all those years ago; that her mother's death was an accident. Eventually, Irving believes him. Big mistake.

Sutherland is creepily amusing as he carries on about family values. Irving tries hard as the mother but is eventually reduced to the sort of standard female-in-distress shrieking this sort of role always calls for. Benefit marks the feature directorial debut of Jonathan Heap, who may yet make a better movie if he gets a more original script. (R)

  • Contributors:
  • Ralph Novak,
  • Tom Gliatto,
  • Leah Rozen.