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Monty Python's the Meaning of Life

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Monty Python's the Meaning of Life

Starring: Terry Gilliam, John Cleese
Director: Terry Jones
Rated: R
RunTime: 107 Minutes
Release Date: March 1983
Genres: Comedy, Cult

*Also starring: Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Carol Cleveland, Simon Jones

Review by Andrew Hicks
3 stars out of 4

THE MEANING OF LIFE stands in this reviewer's opinion as the best of the three Python films, a collection of sketches tracing the journey and meaning behind this life we all lead. Pythonites John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin once again play multiple roles, male and female, beginning with a birth sequence and continuing into a family with at least fifty children.

We find out why they have fifty children during an elaborate production number detailing the Catholic view of sperm as sacred. (Isn't it though?) We also find out what else Catholics hold sacred in the next sequence, with Father Cleese teaching a class all about sex. He goes far beyond the biological details the rest of us were subjected to in high school, favoring instead a demonstration with his wife. In the grand tradition of school, though, even this doesn't interest the kids, who continue staring into space, passing notes and falling asleep while Cleese gets it on with his wife... For those of you who still harbor any doubt, this movie is rated R.

We continue through the journey with sequences handling the meaning of war, middle age and later death itself, in which the Grim Reaper claims the lives of six dinner party guests and takes them to heaven. Apparently, we will all be subjected to an eternity of lounge singers doing production numbers about Christmas. (Before the Monty Python troop told us differently, this scenario was known as hell.) Then there's the most memorable portion of the film, where the world's fattest man comes to dine and regurgitate in a restaurant. How fondly I remember the day we filmed that scene.

Preceding the movie itself is a short film about a small, family-run accounting firm that's been taken over by faceless bureaucrats. But they're taking it back, by force. Though this piece doesn't star any of the Python troupe, it definitely fits in with the rest of THE MEANING OF LIFE, and is later reprised in the feature presentation itself. As with LIFE OF BRIAN, this movie isn't for the easily-offended, but for those of us with strong stomachs (and I've definitely exercised mine enough over the years), it's mostly a very funny movie. Sure, it has its misses too, but so does any work attempting comedy. This review, for example...

Copyright 1996 Andrew Hicks

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