There’s a chance you may have heard of the phrase “In like Flynn,” a slogan, or perhaps more appropriately, a rallying call for potential womanizers. There’s also a bigger chance you may never have realized it was based on the womanizing habits of Hollywood star, Errol Flynn, whose conquests were only too well known during Flynn’s heyday and further endorsed by his autobiography, My Wicked, Wicked Ways, published after his death.
In The Last of Robin Hood, Kevin Kline plays Flynn and he’s quite perfect in an otherwise so, so production. The film documents the last few years of the notorious actor’s life up until he died of a heart attack at the age of fifty, centering solely on his scandalous love affair with fifteen year old starlet Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning). By the late forties, Flynn’s career was in decline. Even though he continued making films, he was never perceived by audiences in quite the same way as he was during the previous decade when films like The Charge of the Light Brigade or The Adventures of Robin Hood were box-office gold. The energy was gone.
“It was a party when he was around,” states Aadland’s star-struck mother (Susan Sarandon) to her daughter, “But the party’s over and we have to clean up the mess.”
Told in flashback, The Last of Robin Hood begins at the end with Flynn’s death. A grief stricken teenager, Beverly Aadland, is hounded by the Hollywood press as she emerges from a small plane to return to her mother. When faced with a barrage of questions, the young girl says nothing, but the mother, Florence, has no shortage of words. “It was his last love,” she says to a reporter, “It was her first.”
What follows is a series of events as seen not only through the eyes of the mother, an admittedly unreliable source when it came to the facts, but also Flynn’s young personal assistant, Ronnie Shedlo (Matt Kane) who coincidentally was also a classmate of Beverly’s, and interviews from Beverly herself. Having these three perspectives tell the same thing may have sounded initially like an interesting approach, but the style falters and ultimately gets in the way.
Had the film stuck to a more straight-forward, single-handed account, things may have seemed more interesting, but told in this manner, everything comes across as a lightweight, surface-only account, as if writer/directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland were trying to be more respectful than scandalous. Running at only a scant ninety minutes, the film seems to conclude before it’s even begun. “I’m too old for her,” admits a weary Flynn, “But, sadly, she’s not too young for me.”
Watching The Last of Robin Hood is like flicking through an edition of the Cliffs Notes instead of reading the full novel.
MPAA Rating: R Length: 90 Minutes Overall Rating: 6 (out of 10)