Monday, August 23, 2010

Day Fifty-Two: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #67
Year: 1975
Director: Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones
Starring: Graham Chapman and John Cleese

Some movies defy analysis. It doesn't stop analysts from trying to analyze them, but they exist on the screen and the screen alone and dissecting them only takes away from their greatness. I felt that I was doing Duck Soup a disservice when I blogged about it, and I fear I may be doing the same here. The only difference is that I actually have written academically, erm, "academically" about Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In my senior year of high school, I wrote a paper about the use of anachronism in the film and how it contributes to its satiric message. Yes, it was mostly tripe, but it did force me to think about a movie that I had always loved but never truly thought about. I realized that while I still loved the film, it was not one that I enjoyed more after thinking about it. It's much more fun to just revel in the silliness.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is less a proper movie than a series of comedy sketches all related to the legends of King Arthur. In that way it's a lot like the King Arthur legends themselves – there wasn't one canonical tome, the legends exist as a loose association of stories with the same characters. In that way, the Monty Python troupe did a fitting tribute to their source material. Beyond that (Along with the anachronism and satire that I have written at length about elsewhere – if anyone wants a copy, let me know. But you don't) there's little more to talk about besides the genius of the wildly disparate sketches and gags. Somehow, I don't think talking about the sketches will be nearly as useful as watching them. Explaining something funny is never as funny as seeing it. I can't even give a list of my favorite parts, because every sketch knocks it completely out of the park. This is my favorite straight-up comedy movie of all time, so I don't want to weaken any of the sketches with unnecessary explanation. In short, if you somehow haven't seen this movie, you owe it to yourself to watch it. There's probably never been a funnier two hours of film.

The Good: The sketches are all masterfully written and executed.

The Bad: The animated parts provide something to break up the sketches, but are generally less interesting and less funny than the live-action bits themselves.

The Skinny: It's actually really refreshing to see a silly comedy this high on the list. I'd have it higher on my personal list, but I'm satisfied with its position.


  1. I think that Life of Brian is even higher?
    I'm unsure I will have to go check.
    I love the Monty Python movies! (didn't much care for The Meaning of Life but besides that...)
    I also went and saw Spamalot which was a musical that John Cleese wrote based on Holy Grail.
    Seriously, it was ALMOST funnier than the movie was.

  2. Spamalot is coming to my college this year, I might have to check it out since I love this movie so much, even though I typically hate musicals (except opera).