directors Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
When I asked the kids what they wanted to watch on movie night, Felix said, “A classic. Like Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Who am I to argue?
They’d watched Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979) with their mother and we’d previewed a number of scenes from the film on YouTube. But frankly, for all its popular cultural ubiquity and placement on many lists as one of the “greatest comedies of all time”, I don’t know if I’d actually seen it since the 1980’s.
Like so many things that I grew up with and had my own experience with, Monty Python has come to signify not only a style of British humor, but has gone far beyond the breadth of its initial run. Of course, on Broadway, there’s Spamalot, adapted directly from the film and broadening the reach of the humor perhaps more deeply into the mainstream. Of course, one thinks of the classic “nerd” when considering the most typical Python fan. And I could hear echoes of that in my consciousness as I heard lines like, “I fart in your general direction.”
I’m going to go ahead and say it: It’s not a great film. It’s funny, classic in many parts, but it’s also exemplary of the hit and miss nature of Python humor, gags, skits, what-have-you.
Am I showing my lack of cultivation by saying that I think the Black Knight scene is the funniest of them all?
The kids enjoyed it. Like a lot of verbal/physical humor (like the Marx Brothers), I’m sure that there’s a lot of it that they didn’t get. I’m sure that there’s stuff that I didn’t get.
It’s a classic, yes, indeed. Extremely funny. Far from flawless.