I remember at the end of each episode of the classic Canadian animated series Rocket Robin Hood, there was this short vignette. It claimed that Rocket Robin Hood would be appearing in an all new movie coming to a theatre near me soon. I spent about a year of my early childhood religiously checking my local newspaper listings for news of this alleged Rocket Robin Hood movie. After that, I got a little more cynical about ever seeing something as awesome as a Rocket Robin Hood movie in my lifetime. I came to the conclusion that the vignette was, to use my Dad's favourite phrase at the time, "total malarkey".
However, the idea of a Rocket Robin Hood feature film has stayed with me all these years. And now with movies like Transformers and The A-Team perpetually ruling the box office grosses, it is clear that retro is in....again.
The time is right for the fabled Rocket Robin Hood movie.
In live action.
Rocket Robin Hood The Motion Picture has the potential to be that rarest of things: the English Canadian blockbuster. The entire film could probably be shot in front a green screen. Today's digital effects could easily duplicate the limited animation look of the classic Canadian animated series. Rocket Robin Hood The Motion Picture would be ideal as a purely Canadian movie. It should be 100% Canuck and not just because almost no one in the US seems to have heard of the show (apparently it did do well in syndication in the US in the 60's but thanks to our Cancon regulations, the series had much stronger rerun staying power in the Great White North), but because there are few pop culture icons as quintessentially Canadian as Rocket Robin Hood.
It's a property that is multi-generational in its appeal. The cartoon that has been running on Canadian TV pretty much non-stop for the last 50 years.
I also strongly feel that such a project should stay Canadian. That the cast and crew should be made up of people who still, for the most part, live and work in Canada in the Canadian film industry. So your Jim Carreys, your William Shatners, your Seth Rogans, your Pamela Andersons, your Keifer Sutherlands, your Rachel McAdams' and most definitely your Keanu Reeves' need not apply.
In the hopes that some high powered Canadian film producers are reading this (if I'm lucky maybe both of them are), here is my dream cast for the middle range budget Canadian live action blockbuster, Rocket Robin Hood The Motion Picture.
Also remember to hire yours truly to direct the film, write the script and act in it, K?
Paul Gross as Rocket Robin Hood
It's a natural.
There is no other Canadian leading man that could pull off the role of Rocket Robin Hood.....well...actually....there is no other Canadian leading man. Period.
Nonetheless, Gross would be able to nail just that right combination of tongue in cheek parody and semi-serious melodrama necessary for the part. If anyone out there is in doubt about the guy's acting chops, take a look at him in the outstanding Canadian TV series, Slings and Arrows.
Plus think about all those close ups on those great eyes of his during the lengthier bits of dialogue...
Tahmoh Penikett as Little John
Mr. Penikett's certainly has got the bod for the role. He's also got the BSG and Joss Whedon geek street cred that's helpful in selling a film of this nature.
He doesn't seem to be working a lot lately so a big canuck movie might be the extra boost Mr. Penikett's career could use.
Mr. Penikett will, of course, need a bit of electro-quaterstaff training and let's hope he likes squirrels.
Remy Girard as Friar Tuck
A name like Remy Girard is key to breaking the often impassible Quebec box office barrier that all English Canadian films must face. He'd have to be cast anyway. If the film shoots in Montreal, then I'm pretty sure there's a Telefilm regulation that states that Mr.Girard must appear in any film shot in the metropolitan area.
People I know who have worked with Mr. Girard tell me he can literally play anything. A portly futuristic man of the intergalactic cloth should be no problem then.
Go watch The Barbarian Invasions again and this time picture Girard bouncing bad guys off of his stomach.
Sarah Polley as Maid Marian
On the plus side, the role of Maid Marion in the original Rocket Robin Hood cartoon is almost nonexistent. It would be easy to beef up the part by working in Maid Marion's involvement with the New Space Democratic Party and other causes important to Ms Polley. Really, when you think about it, the Robin Hood myth (rockets or no) is all about combating poverty. Plus if there's any police brutality going on the year 3000, it's definitely being perpetrated by the Sheriff of KNOTT's burly guards.
Ms.Polley might also be looking to raise some cash for her next directing project. So a film that could possibly be even better than her excellent Away From Her might end up being a nice byproduct of Rocket Robin Hood The Motion Picture.
Eric Peterson as The Sheriff of KNOTT
He also showed off some of the best timing and comedic acting I've ever seen on Corner Gas (and yes, I'm one of those people that actually really liked the show...but I think that's another blog).
The Sheiff of KNOTT (National Outer-space Terrestrial Territories) is a scheming weaselly little guy that everybody loves to see defeated in the most comedic and humiliating way possible.
Tailor made for Eric Peterson, that is.
Colm Feore as Prince John
If you've seen him in the Vin Diesel vehicle The Chronicles of Riddick then you've got a pretty good idea of what Mr.Feore could do with a role as juicy as that of Prince John.
If Feore were to throw in a couple of Trudeau mannerisms while playing the villain of Rocket Robin Hood, he'd bring the house down in just about any cinema in Canada, especially out West.
With the Quebecois blockbuster status of Bon Cop, Bad Cop, Feore would more than likely add that extra juice to the box office revenues in La Belle Province.
Just as an aside, I remember Prince John's vignette had a line about, "...his plan to destroy and conquer the solar system". Oh, come on, Prince John! Anybody can conquer a solar system after they've already destroyed it. A half way decent evil genius tyrant has to at least conquer a solar system and then destroy it. Pfff! Wimp.
Rob Wells as Will Scarlet
Will Scarlet may be a bit of a stretch from Rick, the boozing, pothead, dim witted slacker of Trailer Park Boys.
But c'mon, Rob Wells in an actor, after all. He should be able to play another character. I have seen him in things other than Trailer Park Boys. Actually, come to think of it, I've never seen him play a totally different character (this is also true of his role in the upcoming intriguingly cheezily titled Canadian film, Hobo With a Shotgun).
That said, I'm sure the guy is dying to break out of the type casting mold he's been stuck in. Now that he's got the entire Trailer Park Boys series and two movies under his belt, Wells should be prime to move on.
Another important pertinent point is that Mr. Wells has a beard and so does Will Scarlet.
Will Scarlet is also kinda of a bit of a goofy character, as you can see in the clip below.
Those lines would be putty in Mr.Wells' hands, I'm sure.
Colin Mochrie as Infinata from Dementia 5
Including Dementia 5 is a must for Rocket Robin Hood The Motion Picture. I see it as a smaller part of the overall story. Some place Robin and Little John must get through in order to get a thing that'll lead them to another thing that'll help them stop some kind of a thing that Prince John is trying to do that's bad.
You know, kinda thing...
Infinata to be at bit too heavy handed and (as a small child) too scary for Rocket Robin Hood. Casting Canada's improv king in the role would lighten things up just enough to make the master of Dementia 5 a bit more humourous while still being a viable threat to our heroes. Colin Mochrie has got just the right kinda face for the part. The make-up and wardrobe teams could do some really neat stuff with Mr.Mochrie as a starting point.
Take a look at this classic sequence.
Proof positive that even the people making Canadian Saturday morning cartoons were on drugs in the 60's. In fact, Ralph Bakshi (the man who later be responsible for bringing R.Crumb's Fritz The Cat to animated life on the big screen) directed this episode. That explains quite a bit. Seriously.
My fave sequence here is when Robin and John discover that the secret to escaping Dementia 5 is to close their eyes. Were the writers stealing from Frank L. Baum or something?
Imagine what Mr.Mochire could do with the scene where Infinata starts freaking out saying, "No. No. Don't close your eyes! You can't do that!". It'd be a thing of comedic genius.
Plus there's a good chance Mochrie's Infinata scenes would end up being arbitrarily cut into the next Spider-Man movie.
Terence Bowman as All of The Guards
I'd have to hit the workouts a little harder than I already do just to pull off the physique of these guys. It would be worth it though. All of the guards look exactly the same. Through the magic of CGI, I'd be all over the movie. My personal theory on that, BTW, is that like the Old Republic in Star Wars, The Sheriff of KNOTT has put together an army of clones to do his dirty work.
There would be no lines to learn which would come in handy while I'm also writing and directing the film.
It was hard to find a decent picture of these glorified henchmen anywhere. So take a look at this clip. Just imagine me an' Remy nailing this scene.
I can't wait till we shoot that flying ass first into the camera stunt. That one'll take some practice.
Now Rocket Robin Hood The Motion Picture has its writer, director and cast.
Well, a massively important element to the overall entertainment value of Rocket Robin Hood is, of course, the music. Not only is there that unforgettable theme song but the show is full of all kinds of little musical interludes. The interlude ballads are virtually always explaining how Prince John and The Sheriff of KNOTT are pure evil and vile and how Robin and his merry men are pure goodness and virtue.
If you wanna make some serious cash off of this project, the most obvious choice for a Canadian musician to interpret all of the classic Rocket Robin Hood tunes would be, undoubtedly, Justin Beiber.
Issues of taste aside, the kid's bound to be back to being a nobody getting beaten up in high school by the time Rocket Robin Hood The Motion Picture is actually made.
Other choices might include Avril Lavigne, Sam Roberts, Shania Twain, The Tragically Hip, Arcade Fire, Simple Plan, Nickelback, The Barenaked Ladies, Alanis Morissette or the even more dreaded than Beiber choice of Celine Dion.
Seriously, though, could you see any of those people really doing justice to this?
As far as I'm concerned there is only Canadian recording artist whose musical style could both respect and at the same time breathe new life into the classic balladeering of Rocket Robin Hood. As an added bonus, she's already got experience in family friendly entertainment:
No doubt about it. Feist's our girl. Now that I'm thinking about it, Feist should put out an entire album of covers of classic Canadian kid's TV show music.
Rocket Robin Hood The Motion Picture is just about ready to go.
So everybody out there write to your local office of Telefilm, the CRTC, the CABLE fund and your MP. Lobby heavily to get what will be The Greatest Canadian Movie Ever Made off the ground and into space.
In other words, raise a shout throughout the land for Rocket Robin Hood.
Finally, I'd just like to give a big shout out to my pal and former Star Trek: On Stage co-star, Andre, for planting this whole silly idea in my head.
So long for now, from an astro-glen on a star...