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Monty Python's 'Meaning of Life' (DVD)
Member Name: mjc121
Monty Python's 'Meaning of Life' (DVD)
Date: 21/06/09, updated on 06/12/09 (82 review reads)
Advantages: strong performanceis by all the MP crew
Disadvantages: more of a sketch show than a film
For me this is the worst of the three films which the Monty Python team did, that is if I am judging it as a film in the strictest sense of the word. . It really is more of a selection of sketches which have been loosely linked together as a journey through life. Some of the sketches are very good and very funny whilst others are a bit cringe worthy and about as funny as a wet weekend camping.
This sketch format really makes it a very odd type of 'film' and the 'intermission' bit where the game of 'find the fish' is played is so ridiculous it's unbelievable. This is perhaps part of the film that should have been left on the cutting room floor. Sometimes I wonder if some of these sketches are those which they knew they would never get passed the censors for the TV programme so why not use them in a film.
The meaning of life does feature a few more of Terry Gilliam's animations than we see in 'Life of Brian' but I feel he does give some of the weaker acting performances in the actual sketches. The rest of the Monty Python team all give good to very good performances but the one sketch set in a 'dungeon restaurant' is really bad and I have to fast forward through it.
As this is more a series of sketches, continuity of the Monty Python team playing many of the parts is less of a problem as it is in the other two films and this appears to help Eric Idle to put in a far better performance than he did in 'Life of Brian'. John Cleese is as good as he always was and does a superb job as the teacher/headmaster in the 'education' sketch. As the team were lacking any women it appears to have been left to Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Terry Jones to 'drag up' for most of the female parts.
The film carries a BBFC classification of 18 which I think is about right. Whilst there are no really violent scenes the 'strong' language is very frequent and the 'education' sketch may have been enough to give it the 18 rating on its own with it's rather novel way of teaching reproduction.
The DVD starts off with a short story set in an old firm of British accountants who have been taken over by an American giant. The British are all elderly but this doesn't stop them teaching the young Americans a lesson they won't forget. We then go into the main titles which as usual are done over Gilliam's animations. This film has the song 'The meaning of life' performed by Eric Idle. Not the funniest song in the film but it is a good opening.
Anyway, as it is really more of a sketch based film there is no real plot to speak of but some of my favourite bits are:
Birth: Well really there are two sketches for this but it is the second one which is the better of the two. Here we get the full performance of 'Every Sperm is Sacred' it was this one song which apparently took about a third of the entire films budget.
Education: Set in a public school we see the typical 'assembly' followed by the hymn to be sung then into the lesson. Well the lesson is on reproduction and with it being Monty Python I don't need to say just how this is taught, but it is certainly unorthodox.
In the posh Restaurant: This brings the " the customer is always right" motto to new extremes as we see the diner who has decided to eat his way through the entire menu, well up until the 'wafer thin mint' at the end anyway.
Death: a quaint little cottage with a dinner party which a very unwelcome guest gatecrashes. This really shows the stereotypical tolerance of the British with an unwelcome guest.
Summary: not the best but some good bits.