The Meaning of Life (1983)

R   |    |  Comedy, Musical


The Meaning of Life (1983) Poster

The comedy team takes a look at life in all of its stages in their own uniquely silly way.


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  • Eric Idle in The Meaning of Life (1983)
  • Eric Idle and Terry Jones in The Meaning of Life (1983)
  • Graham Chapman in The Meaning of Life (1983)
  • The Meaning of Life (1983)
  • Terry Jones in The Meaning of Life (1983)
  • Michael Palin in The Meaning of Life (1983)

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15 August 2005 | Quinoa1984
8
| least in the Python 'trilogy', but parts are wildly successful and memorable
Taking a slight departure from the story structure of The Holy Grail and Life of Brian, the Monty Python troupe went back to their 'Flying Circus' TV days to cook up this philosophical, musical, ultra-violent, sexual, total stream-of-consciousness look into what makes up our lives, and if there is a meaning to it. It's split up into parts, starting off with the Miracle of Birth (extending into the Miracle of Birth in the Third Role), a part on war, a part on sex, and so forth. This time Python goes even further with the outrageousness, the delayed punch-lines, the wit, almost nothing is taken prisoners. They go after religion, children, schooling, business, fat people, television, you name it, they go for it, all in the quest for the 'meaning of life'.

I saw the film twice last year, and bits on TV, and I had pretty much the same reaction the second time as the first. Like with many of Python's sketches, the strengths usually out-weigh the weaknesses, depending on who's stronger in the bit; I loved the Miracle of Birth number with Michael Palin's "Every Sperm is Sacred" song, which spirals into one of director Terry Jones's most inspired numbers; I had big belly laughs when Gilliam, as a resident, got an impromptu kidney operation, as the bystanders barely seemed affected; the Mr. Creoste sketch was crude, but blatantly over the top; the timing in the school scenes and the battlefield scenes was very sharp. But in the end, the parts are more memorable than really on the whole, un-like with the other two films.

They set themselves up for a challenge- to make a comedy successful without the sort of core that was in Holy Grail (the search by King Arthur and other knights) and Life of Brian (a man mistaken to be the messiah). Sketches and specifics in the Python world are when they're at their best, and aspects like the animation and the overall scheme of getting the punchlines (or lack thereof) right isn't affected. What can be said is that some of the bits that don't work well as others keep one wanting to get to the next best bit- luckily, this all leads up to a manic scene of Chapman running away from dozens of naked women. It's always a spectacular romp with the Pythons, and even when they're at their worst and most vile and and strange (there is one scene I have no explanation for), its watchable. Maybe some scenes, like with other comedies from my childhood that I'm still amused by, will become funnier as time goes on, like little in-jokes.

Critic Reviews



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Did You Know?

Trivia

Terry Gilliam filmed "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" with his own crew and soundstage. He went way over budget, and a five-minute scene became a thirty-minute short movie. The group decided that they couldn't use the sequence in chronological order as featured in the script, right after the "Very Big Corporation of America" staff meeting, because it would slow the movie down. They decided to use it at the beginning, as a special presentation, and it was reduced to sixteen minutes.


Quotes

Humphrey: All right, settle down. Settle down... Now, before I begin the lesson, will those of you who are playing in the match this afternoon move your clothes down onto the lower peg immediately after lunch, before you write your letter home, if you're not ...


Goofs

When Mr. Creosote throws up for the first time in the movie, traces of vomit can be seen on the floor prior to his vomiting, presumably leftovers from previous takes/rehearsals.


Crazy Credits

In the opening credits, the title is initially written as "MEANING OF LIFF", then a lightning strike corrects that to "LIFE". A book, "The Meaning of Liff", written by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd was published in 1983.


Alternate Versions

The Director's Cut has three more scenes. The first is after the scene with the Protestant couple talking about condoms. It is the Adventures of Martin Luther. The second scene comes between the marching around the square scene and the Zulu army scene. It is a promotional video about the British army. The third and last is an extension of the the American characters that Eric Idle and Michael Palin do. They are shown their room and talk about tampons.


Soundtracks

Christmas in Heaven
Lyrics by
Terry Jones
Music by Eric Idle
Performed by Graham Chapman

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Comedy | Musical

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