Thursday, April 12, 2018

Monty Python's Meaning of Life, 1983

Directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones
Written by Graham ChapmanJohn CleeseEric IdleTerry GilliamTerry Jones, and Michael Palin
Starring the same

John Cleese apparently felt that it was a loss to do a series of sketches, but, personally, I'm OK with it. Yes, like most sketch bits, it's uneven, but it's friggin' Monty Python, so even the worst stuff is pretty good. 

And the best stuff? Let's just say this: I literally (and I mean literally, not figuratively) fell out of a chair laughing at this movie -- and it wasn't the first time I'd seen it. It was the scene when the doors open for Michael Palin and Eric Idle, as the middle-aged American couple, to go into the dungeon-themed Hawaiian restaurant.

And, speaking of Eric Idle, I always assume that the songs are his, and this movie has, arguably, the best songs. I'm particularly fond of the opening number (along with its top notch Gilliam animation) and Every Sperm Is Sacred, but the Universe Song, Christmas in Heaven, and that little faux Cole Porter-ish number in the restaurant that precedes Mr. Creosote's arrival are all pretty swell, too.

While it's easy to lose sight of the short bits, some of them are so stunningly over the top that they merit noting. I'm thinking of Michael Palin's marching up and down the square; Graham Chapman's military man being struck dead by God; John Cleese's supercilious school teacher giving unbearably complex instructions (prior to sex ed); Chapman and Terry Jones in The Middle of the Film; Terry Gilliam's inexplicably Little Bo Peep hostess; and, perhaps most hilariously, Palin and Idle lying terribly about why they're in a tiger suit.

And there's more. Of course, there's more. It's Monty Python. That's why, when Michael Palin introduced one of their movies at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge a number of years ago, we gave him a standing ovation -- because they're so amazing.

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