Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life Review

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A portmanteau of sketches and mini-films all based around a study of the meaning of life. Religion, death, sex, contraception and accountancy all find their place.


The last hurrah from the Monty Python team is seen as a lesser accomplishment than Life Of Brian and Holy Grail, too piecemeal and unfocused, but it possesses some of their most iconic musings and inspired madness. Terry Gilliam, for one, was up to his usual excesses launching the film with a fifteen minute story within the story, complete with all his operatic surrealism, involving accountants as literal pirates whose very office blocks lift anchor. He was also spending all the money, to least effect. Once the film begins proper, it flits from skit to ragged skit, rash with vulgarity if short on the nimbleness of their great TV days.

Taste is sensibly abandoned, and when they hit they really strike a chord. John Cleese as a prissy public school master teaching sex to his bored pupils by shagging his wife in class; the one-sided kids versus teachers rugby match; exploding fatty Mr. Creosote (Jones), and Death making an unforeseen appearance at an awfully nice dinner party. And there’s no discounting the musical inspiration of the epic number Every Sperm Is Scared, glinting with anti-Catholic edges. And as usual Gilliam punctuates the collection with his wild animations. There are plenty of jokes that miss, the film could have done with some judicious trimming; there is just an air of reckless self-satisfaction (especially with that opening salvo), but their collective mania is sorely missed.

Excessive and self-indulgent it's true but still the Pythons at their worst are still worth a look.