It is my humble opinion that, if any Disney animated film was just made for a lazy Sunday, it's got to go to 'Robin Hood'. It's a hard thing to explain, but there's something about the ever-pleasant atmosphere of this film that makes it a sort of "comfort food" movie. It's one I can remember 'Wonderful World of Disney' (every Sunday at 6:00) airing at some point in my childhood, and it's one I haven't seen a lot, but it's one I definitely really like.
With a Disney animated take on things, one can probably imagine that this is a very simplified version of the 'Robin Hood' story. For those unfamiliar, in this version, we follow Robin Hood - a Fox (Brian Bedford) and Little John - a Bear (Phil Harris); two outlaws who dwell in Sherwood Forest. Their M.O. is to rob from the rich, and give to the poor. Being that they interfere with Prince John - a Lion (Peter Ustinov), and his taxation of the townsfolk, they are constantly pursued by the Sherriff of Nottingham - a Wolf (Pat Buttram) in an effort to arrest them, but they outsmart him at every turn. Robin and Little John are two characters you instantly like, as they "stick it to the man", but also have a sweet side to them - which is Robin Hood in a nutshell.
Unlike many different versions of this story, we actually see a little something from a kid's perspective. Robin helps out a young rabbit named Skippy (Billy Whitaker) and gives the kid a bow and arrow and his signature hat. While playing with sharp objects outside, he launches an arrow into the grounds of Maid Marian - a Vixen's (Monica Evans) castle. While going in after it, Marian and her attendant, Lady Kluck - a Chicken (Carole Shelley) meet Skippy (and his friends), and it's here that we learn about a romantic history between Marian and Robin, leading to an archery contest Robin knows he can win; the big prize being a kiss from Marian. Without spoiling the entire movie, much of what ensues involves the relationship between Robin and Marian while Prince John keeps trying to thwart him.
It might bear mentioning a few other characters, like Sir-Hiss - a Snake (Terry-Thomas); Prince John's assistant. PJ and Hiss play very well off each other, and I find it interesting that Hiss is more the straight role while PJ is the comedy relief. We've also got the old favourite, Friar Tuck - a Badger (Andy Devine) who, while part of the church, decidedly helps Robin and Little John under the radar. The there's the folk-singing, story-telling rooster, Allan-a-Dale (Roger Miller) who comes in and out of the film, but is essentially meant to be the film's narrator. They all bring a little something of their own to the film, and deserve the credit for providing us with some rather likable but much lesser known (or not at all known) characters, adding to the fun of it all.
One might watch this version of 'Robin Hood' and suggest that it's far too simplistic. It's often seen in films as somewhat epic, and with a bit of a dark side. However, there's no real sense of any sort of dark side of this. Even our primary antagonist constantly cries for his mommy and sucks his thumb. However, some may not know that this could have been seen as a sort of "quick fix"; and it you ask me, a successful one. This was the first film to start production after Walt Disney's death, so imagine being stuck with that "first project" after the guy who founded the entire juggernaut company just died. So, the story is a simple take on something very familiar, and it takes elements from an abandoned project called 'Reynard the Fox'.
Nowadays, we have different and even more modern takes on the tale; each one with a more or less different take on things. For example, in this version, the concept of Robin's "Merry Men" just doesn't exist. It has, over the years, become akin to something like 'Dracula' or 'James Bond' or even 'Batman' in as much as we all have our select favourite, or one version we consider the best. Although this one wasn't met with a whole whack of positive critical reception, it is very clearly beloved by the masses; often seen as one of the all-time best versions of the story. This is the kind of movie I'm doing this site for (other than it being a hobby of sorts); reviewing it as a general audience member more than a critic. I could get critical, but why? This is so well done, completely inoffensive, and a fun little jaunt for the family. It's one that leaves you with a smile.