Disney’s The Three Musketeers doesn’t require you to be familiar with the classic French novel by Alexandre Dumas or of any previous iterations of the story. In fact, if everything you know about The Three Musketeers comes from the wrapper of a Three Musketeers candy bar, you’re good to go, and may actually have a leg up on the producers. It doesn’t really follow the structure of Dumas’ novel at all -- or so I’ve heard, because I’ve never read the thing. Seriously, have you seen that book? It’s a door stop. You could get arrested for throwing it at someone. Plus, it’s like it was written in another language.
The plot, as near as I can follow in this popcorn film, finds our Three Musketeers (Sutherland, Sheen, and Platt) on the wrong side of the law when they refuse to lay down their swords and relinquish their duty as servants of the crown. Cardinal Richelieu has disbanded the organization in an attempt to amass his own power and pursue power behind the back of the king, and decrees that these three fugitives must be eliminated. Somehow Chris O’Donnell’s D’Artagnan and Rebecca De Mornay’s Milady De Winter get mixed up with our trio as the fight to stop the Cardinal and defend their beloved France from corruption rolls on like a carriage out of control. The plot doesn’t really play a huge role in the movie, in my opinion, and is more of a tool to get us from one action scene to the next. No complaints here.
The Three Musketeers recaptures some of the affection I’d had for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves a couple of years earlier, and I don’t think this is an accident. For one thing, Michael Wincott plays essentially the exact same role here that he did in Robin Hood, being the strong-arm and enforcer of our crooked political figure. Another connection is the score composed by Michael Kamen, who also provided the rousing music for Robin Hood, and which can still be heard in quite a few Disney trailers. Brian Adams wrote a song for the closing credits of Robin Hood, and he did the same thing for The Three Musketeers. Both are soft rock and radio friendly. "All for Love" kind of make me want to vomit now, but back then I was pretty sure it was a fantastic song. "All for Love" also featured Sting and Rod Stewart singing with Bryan Adams, making them sort of like the Three Musketeers of mom rock…okay, I did actually just vomit. The song was a huge hit, and made it to number one on the charts. The CD single also went platinum, meaning that it sold over A MILLION COPIES. This happened, people.
Young Guns on TV and had been blown away by how cool they both were. I think I’d somehow managed to see Flatliners as well, and that had Kiefer and Oliver Platt in it, so having all these guys in the same movie was unbelievable.
I remember reading a piece of criticism back in the day that called this movie the Brat Pack version of The Three Musketeers in the same way that the Young Guns movies were the Brat Pack version of a western. The comment was not intended as a compliment, and it made me furious; I found it to be really reductive and inaccurate, and I stewed on it for a long time. The fact that I’m bringing it up here is evidence that I still haven’t let it go completely. But here’s the thing: looking back, that’s pretty much exactly what is going on here. In fact, great measures were taken to market this to the teen audience, and by including heartthrobs like Kiefer (who was a staple of magazines like Tiger Beat and all the tabloid rags) and the swoon-worthy Chris O’Donnell, the studio could rest assured that the girls AND the guys would want to come see their movie.
3 days to F This Movie Fest 4!