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  • MONTY PYTHON'S THE MEANING OF LIFE (4 outta 5 stars)

    I never really thought this was anywhere near the best work of the Pythons... but, the more I see this movie, the more I like it. People not in tune with the Python sense of humour will find this film unbearable I'm sure. (When I saw it in the theatre when it first came out there were an incredible numbers of walkouts... even *before* the infamous "Mr. Creosote" scene.) Not an actual movie so much as an extended (and expensively-produced) episode of the classic BBC TV series "Monty Python's Flying Circus"... depicting several stages in the lives of human beings, from birth to death. There are some hilarious bits (the sex education class, Death crashing a dinner party), some clever bits (the opening fish skit, the show-stopping dance number "Every Sperm is Sacred") and some just plain gross, disgusting bits (Mr. Creosote, organ donations). Plus, the movie has its own special short subject "The Crimson Permanent Assurance"... where an accounting office staffed by aging workerbees suddenly metamorphosizes into a pirate ship! Most people find this bit incredibly boring and pointless... but, dang, its cleverly done!
  • The famous British comedy troupe, Monthy Python, crafted this bizarre collections of their special brand of humor as their last film together; loosely tied by the common theme of the everlasting search for the Meaning of Life, this series of sketches make a very good closure for their film adventures, as it seems as a return to their roots in the TV show "Flying Circus" and dedicated to long time fans. Nevertheless, this may also be a turn off for fans expecting something akin to "Holy Grial" or "Life of Brian".

    Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones direct the segments that form "The Meaning of Life", divided in the diverse stages of human development (from birth to death), the action flows with ease; although due to the nature of the film, some sketches are definitely better than other. It's safe to say that this movie contains some of the best and the worst the troupe has done; however, their most mediocre work is still better than most modern comedy out there.

    The movie also foresees the future careers of both Gilliam and Jones as directors; their film style (particularly Gilliam's) is now mature and almost fully developed. Gilliam's short "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" is an outstanding segment that could even stand alone on its own, and that presents Gilliam fully in form as a wild fantasy director.

    While this was their last film, the group seems to be at its peak when talking about acting; from John Cleese's Dr. Spenser to Graham Chapman's near perfect impersonation of Tony Bennet, the acting never lets down, and even when some scripts are dull even for their time, the Pythons as actors never disappoint.

    Something worth to notice are the great quality of the songs performed in the film. they are not only written with their high quality witty humor, musically they work very well and rank among the best the group has written in their history together.

    Still, the movie may be overlong and at times tedious to people not used to the team's brand of humor. Specially considering that "The Meaning of Life" has more in common with their early roots than with what made them famous. Also, probably some of the jokes are definitely outdated now; however, "The Meaning of Life" is a very good display of the gang's different sides.

    While maybe not as ingenious as "Holy Grail" and definitely nowhere near the masterpiece "Life of Brian", the Pythons last movie is still a very good comedy to watch. However, this certain brand of humor may be appealing only to fans of the Python's TV work, as it has more of those early roots than of their past film adventures. 8/10. An acquired taste indeed.
  • The moment you start watching "Monty Python's Meaning of Life", and you see the unexpected movie within the movie "The Crimson Permanent Assurance", in which an office building turns into a pirate ship, you know you're in for one hell of a surreal ride. "Meaning of Life" is the Pythons at the zenith of their lunacy, filled with shocking moments of violence, offensive behavior, repulsive bodily functions, and all sorts of jaw-dropping bric a brac. Whether or not the movie truly intends to make us ponder the meaning of life or not is debatable, but you have a great time watching it. With an aquarium full of fish as a sort of Greek chorus, we explore the 3 stages of life: birth, growth, and death. The faint of heart better beware: "Meaning of Life" has scenes that would, even today, barely fly in the land of the Puritans. Michael Palin, as a dirt-poor father of 100 children, leads an epic musical number against birth control. Eric Idle, while singing about the vastness of the universe, witnesses a constellation take form of a naked woman giving birth. John Cleese plays a headmaster who teaches sex ed by having intercourse with his wife in front of his class (it's easily the least erotic sex scene in cinema history). And, in "Meaning of Life"'s most famous scene, the revolting, gluttonous Mr. Creosote (Terry Jones) literally eats until he explodes. The film lampoons several touchy topics: Catholic dogma, basic human stupidity and selfishness, the foolishness of war (in a brilliant parody of "Zulu", with Michael Caine in a brief cameo), and even death itself (one man is able to choose his death, in which he is chased off a cliff by a mob of topless women). Yet it's not entirely gratuitous. In fact, the Pythons make several good points: birth control shouldn't be denied to anyone, especially those too poor to have children. Gluttony is wrong, and will in time punish you itself. We only live once, so we better enjoy the ride. It's no-holds-barred madness, and it's Monty Python at their best. "Meaning of Life" doesn't have the same cult following as "Holy Grail", but it's certainly one of their best. If you can't handle gore, sex, vomiting, or lunacy, steer clear. For those willing to take the chance, check out "Monty Python's Meaning of Life" and maybe we'll figure out, as the title song says, if "mankind's evolving, or is it too late?".
  • The third and last real film by the Monty Python crew. First, they made fun of the medieval times and its beliefs. Then, they gave the earliest followers of Jesus a whooping'. Now, they... well, they pretty much cover every stage of life in the search for the 'meaning of life'. The film, unlike the two other ones(Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian) is basically a series of sketches(whereas the two aforementioned films had progressive plots), much like the series(Monty Python's Flying Circus). As such, it's pretty much like watching an episode of said series, if the episodes were nearly two hours long. Of course, this means that if you like the series, you'll like the film. To this date, I have yet to meet anyone who likes the group and doesn't like the series, so I guess it was a good idea. Despite the title, it has reasonably little actual philosophy and such, but I doubt any Python-fans will be completely devastated by this. As another new thing for a Python-film, it's also a musical. There have been one or two musical numbers during the previous films and the series, but nothing this major. There are about 8-9 musical scenes in the film, complete with choreographed dancing, lead singers and backup vocals. Of course, it's all done in typical Python-style, so not a single one of them is what you'd normally expect from a musical. The comedy is pretty much the same as usual from the Python troupe, with some misses, but mostly hits. Plot is pretty much nonexistent, but what there is, is good. The pacing is good, but because of the film's all-sketch content, it gets somewhat dull around the middle(as Cleese also points out in the 'making of' featured on the DVD). The acting is all pretty good. The special effects are nice. Not much else to say, since you already pretty much know the Pythons' style of humor from the series and the two earlier films. And if you don't, you should probably check out either of the films first, or, even better, one of the more sober episodes of the series. I recommend this to any fan of the Monty Python group, particularly those who prefer the Flying Circus over the two other films, since it's more sketch-comedy than the others. 8/10
  • After The Life of Brian and The Holy Grail, this film had a lot to do to keep up. The python boys are going to explain to you the meaning of life, in the only way they know how, brilliantly and stupidly.

    Not entirely linear this is like lots of mini movies, depicting the the stages of life, from birth to death, with episodes such as learning and fighting each other in between.

    Each short film is well made and they all lend a comic viewpoint to there particular place in life.

    My favourite is probably death (the grim reaper is just so cool), or perhaps its fighting each other, or.....What the hell there all good fun.

    Don't worry about the opening movie, it nothing like the rest of the film and it does grow on you.

    8/10 If you don't like python stay away, if you've never seen them, then give it a try.
  • The best thing about "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life" is without a doubt the short film that opens it. Directed by Terry Gilliam and originally conceived as an animated sequence, "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" is a crucial step in Gilliam's career as a director. His previous two solo efforts as director, the inconsequential "Jabberwocky" and the brilliant-in-its-own-way "Time Bandits" saw him developing his visual style much further than he did for his scenes for "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", with "Time Bandits" arguably being the first 'Gilliam-esque' film he made. Still, "Time Bandits" didn't see his style fully developed, and "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" is an even more bizarre film, but with a far more confident and clear-cut visual style. Simply put: Gilliam was ready for "Brazil". This segment is the best in the film from a cinematic viewpoint, without a doubt, and even gives some of the other segments a run for their money in terms of the quality of the comedy, which involves office clerks who become pirates. Yes, it is quite strange.

    The issue a lot of people have with "The Meaning of Life" is that it is crass and rude and even sillier than the Python standard. It's shock humor, but for the majority of the sections of the film work so well and are so clever even in their lack of class that I would not hesitate to put "The Meaning of Life" on the same level as "Life of Brian", though it's not as good as "Monty Python & The Holy Grail". That's not to say this isn't 'Python-esque', because it's very much so, they're just completely liberated by the medium of film to say and do whatever they please. Indeed, there's something in here to offend nearly anyone, but there's also a fair bit in here to please everyone, even a wonderful scene in which Gilliam's 'supporting feature' "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" suddenly intrudes on the events of the film.

    "The Meaning of Life" is constructed as a series of skits, and though many have suggested that it is hence not as much of a narrative movie as their previous two efforts. I tend to disagree with this viewpoint. Yes, this film is a series of skits, but they are all elaborately set up within an overarching 'commentary' on the general theme of the movie, the title. There is one section of the film which is both entirely unnecessary and honestly quite bad is 'The Autumn Years', an unfunny and vile piece centered around Terry Jones in a fat-suit repeatedly vomiting and eventually exploding. Basically all of the rest of the film is very, very funny, and even the jokes which fall flat within scenes like "Live Organ Transplants" and "Death" don't go terribly wrong because the overall quality of the scenes and sections are so high and the concepts behind them very funny. Gilliam's animations work excellently within the film and this would sadly be the last time we saw a distinctive Gilliam animation within a major film.

    "The Meaning of Life" is great comedy. It's crass and rude and goes for cheap humor often, but it's mostly handled with a great deal of wit and intelligence that elevates even the section involving the world's most pornographic sex education class to a high level. Perhaps in retrospect this film's flaws are more obvious than those "Life of Brian" suffers from, but both are ultimately on the same level.

    9/10
  • A series of skits and songs that try to answer the question that we all want answered: what does it all mean? Addressing topics from love and sex to war and death (and halibut) the crazy entourage known as Monty Python will keep you informed, thinking, and of course laughing your ass off.

    It is really more of a big budget production of Saturday Night Live since there is no real connecting plot throughout it all the segments, other than the issues being talked about and made fun of, but it still manages to be outrageously entertaining. 8/10

    Rated R: near constant crudeness
  • I was introduced to Monty Python a few weeks ago by a friend who let me borrow their movie collection on DVD. I have still got it with me, and have watched all the films at least twice. I have to admit, the humour and format is a bit out of date, but when you consider it's all over 20 years old and all still funny, you realise how ingenious it actually is. Anyhow, despite what other fans have said, this is almost certainly Monty Python's best film. Sure, it doesn't quite have the satirical cleverness of Life of Brian, sure it isn't as creative as Holy Grail, and despite the fact a lot of fans like this because it's quite similar to the flying circus show, it doesn't get as close to that as 'Now for something completely different' did (probably because that contained sketches directly from the show), and sure, John Cleese denied rewriting the script, which would of made the film even better, but it does have one thing that the show; or any of the other movies for that matter; doesn't have... Conplete and utter frequent obscenity. Seriously, from the beginning to the end it's got sexual, near blasphemous, and death based humour, but because I was watching it with my brother and not mother or any older generation, I hardly noticed. That was, until the live organ transplant scene. Seriously, that was the funniest, most shocking scene I have ever seen in Monty Python, or possibley ever. You have to watch it to get it, but damn. It's also got everything Monty Python's stuff other stuff has got, including an incredibly surreal 'middle of the film' Your'll love this film if you like Monty Pythons unique brand of humour, or if you enjoy fatalist, dark, sexual, toilet, violent, offencive or any other kind of shock value humour. Oh yeah, It's also got Boobies. I think it also contains the f-word a few times, but I don't think it was used more than in Life of Brian so from that side it was less obscene, but on the whole, this is the live-action, plot less, philosophical South Park movie.
  • The Meaning of Life finds the Monty Python boys going back to their Flying Circus roots in a film that examines the many stages of life, and reduces them all to the absurdity that one would expect from these six loons. A very neat short film from Terry Gilliam starts off this search for the meaning of life and we go from birth, to examining the benefits of being a Prostestant. From there we are treated to war, live organ transplants, a very bizarre middle section of the film, sex education, Terry Jones puking and exploding in what has to be one of the most disgusting but extremely funny scenes ever committed to film. It all leads up to death, and I personally like Grahm Chapman's way of execution. It all winds up in Heaven, where every day is Christmas and it's all set up like a Las Vegas lounge show. At the end, Michael Palin gives us the meaning of life. I think he's right.
  • 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.
  • ericjg62323 December 2001
    5/10
    Mixed
    Another reviewer nailed it - by the time this film came out, the Monty Python style of humor was already becoming a bit, well, dated. It'd lost the freshness which made the original TV show and their earlier films such classics. In short, the lads were trying TOO hard to be funny, and it shows. Not that's it's a bad movie, there's enough funny stuff to give nearly every viewer a good laugh at some point or another, but it's just not consistently funny, which is the mark of any great comedy. My favorite was probably the bit about the English Army officers fighting in Africa in the 1870's, when one of them wakes up to find his leg missing.

    The doctor says "Must have been bit off by a tiger".

    "A tiger, here in Africa?"

    "Well, maybe it escaped from a zoo".

    This was the sort of lunatic dialogue which made their earlier work great. But too much of it is just gross out humor. The fat guy was pretty funny, but the liver sketch was just disgusting. And Cleese doing live "sex-ed" in front of a bunch of bored schoolboys just made me want to cringe. Like I said, it seemed to me the guys knew they were past their prime, and instead of just letting the humor flow naturally, they tried too often to force it out. With decidedly mixed results.

    5/10
  • Leave it to Monty Python's Flying Circus to create something like this. "The Meaning of Life" opens with a sketch about a bunch of overworked accountants taking revenge on the yuppie bankers, Errol Flynn-style. Then, the movie shows the various stages of life. Among these displays are an explanation of why "every sperm is sacred", John Cleese's demonstration of having sex, Terry Jones as a man who has quite literally had too much to eat (and continues having too much), and finally, death - prior to which you are chased by half-dressed women.

    Anyway, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones do their usual stuff. A laugh riot from beginning to end.
  • Delightful as well as hilarious film but plenty with profanities , nudism , sex , grossing humor and obscenity . This film being the last Monty Python explores the meaning and aim of life in a lot of sketches from conception , boyhood , adult world , war , to death when the group suffered from food poisoning , then Grim Reaper brings for the final stage of human life and beyond .

    Irreverent and often sidesplitting satire of religion , Catholicism , Protestantism , traditional family , God and many other things . Monty Phyton performs a series of sketches about the life cycle from birth , existence to death in this often uproariously funny , sometimes tedious , movie . According to Michael Palin , the picture ranges from philosophy to history to medicine to halibut . Here the comedy team takes a look at life in all its stages in their own uniquely silly way , as they satirize and humorize almost everyone . ¨The meaning of life¨ , originally called "Monty Python's Fish Film" will probably offend some catholics , including many political and social comments . As it has a mercilessly critique to Roman Catholic in a sketch when a couple has quite a lot of children because 'every sperm is sacred' (the kids who sang the song later said they had no idea what they were singing about) ; being unknown to the rest of the team until later, director Terry Jones spent most of the budget for the film on the dancing and singing sequences . The bizarre "Find The Fish" sketch was filmed in the main control hall of Battersea Power Station, London . It was supposed to represent the weird dreams that we all experience from time to time , Terry Gilliam later expressed his regret that this aspect wasn't given a little more explanation . The best part of the film results to be the beginning with a stand-alone 17-minute supporting feature entitled The Crimson Permanent Assurance stunningly directed by Terry Gilliam ; it was filmed as if it were a completely separate project , Gilliam got his own sound-stage, crew and cast . This segment continued to expand because, according to Gilliam, nobody told him to stop . Furthermore , special mention to the death sketch, where Arthur Jarrett , Graham Chapman , has chosen to die while pursued by naked girls . Six cast members played a lot of characters such as Graham Chapman , John Cleese , Terry Gilliam , Eric Idle , Terry Jones and Michael Palin . The talented cast also conceived and wrote all of the material . The characters they are seen playing last are as following: Graham Chapman as Tony Bennett, John Cleese as Death, Terry Gilliam as Howard Katzenberg, Eric Idle as Angela, Terry Jones as Mrs. Brown and Michael Palin as the Lady presenter . The last shot featuring all the Pythons together is when Death shows the six dead people 'Paradise' . You don't have to be British to enjoy the various political asides and lampoons .

    Lively Original Music by John Du Prez , including jolly final song sung by Eric Idle . Colorful as well as evocative Cinematography by Peter Hannan and Roger Pratt in segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance". The motion picture was well directed by Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam in animation and special sequence ; it won the Special Jury Grand prize at the Cannes film festival . While writing this film, the Python troupe decided to take a break and put on some shows at the famous Hollywood Bowl, which were filmed and released as Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982) . In 1965, filmmaker Terry Jones with his friend Michael Palin, made The Late Show (1966) for television, which was his first success and he wrote for many other TV shows . But Jones' greatest success was the zany Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-74) (with Palin, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle) and other hits such as Jabberwocky , The meaning of life , Monty Python and the Holy Grail and ¨Life of Brian¨ , this is the tale of of a man whose life parallels Jesus ; it results to be the most sustained and funniest film from Britain's bad boys that may prove offensive to some and a sheer delight to others .
  • 'The Meaning of Life' may not appeal to everyone. Even I find some of the sketches too vulgar and a few to be repulsive but that's Monty Pythn for you: sometimes stupid, sometimes outrageous and sometimes funny. The sketch that I enjoyed most was the one with the old office workers fighting with the corperates of modern day. I was also morbidly fascinated by the organ donor sketch. The team: Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and others do a good job of acting, writing and directing. Yes, it might not be everyone's cup of tea but those familiar with the Monty Python series know what kind of humour to expect. I enjoyed lots of it but the one with the fat guy at the restaurant was disgusting to watch. On a final note, the special features on the DVD are worth viewing.
  • shh-315 January 2001
    Monty Python's weakest effort. Some skits are quite funny, many simply crude and pointless. It's as if Monty Python was trying too hard, giving the impression of a bad imitation, sort of like those annoying kids in high school you knew who spent hours repeating Python skits.

    For good Python, go watch Holy Grail or Life of Brian.
  • The cancer that robbed us of Graham Chapman in 1989 not only snuffed out the life of one of Britain's great eccentrics, it also left this sad, shaky undigested lump of a film as the last will and testament of that great comedy troupe he so stolidly centered, Monty Python's Flying Circus.

    Like the first Python film more than a decade before, "And Now For Something Completely Different", this was a collection of sketches. But rather than refining material first performed on the BBC, the six Pythons created a wholly new piece more or less about the purpose of human existence. The patchwork nature of this project is hard to ignore and even commented upon within the film, but the real problem with "Meaning Of Life" is how sourly unfunny it manages to be.

    Have you ever wondered about how so many philosophers have the letter "S" in their names? Neither have I, but the Pythons manage to beat this frail idea into the ground, in the form of Michael Palin and Eric Idle as a pair of middle-aged Americans stuck for dinner conversation. How about organ donation? It turns out a cruel, bloody trick played on Terry Gilliam as a Jewish Rastafarian for some bizarre reason. War is cruel, especially when you are a World War I officer enacted by Terry Jones whose troops decide to throw him a surprise birthday party in the midst of battle.

    John Cleese manages to come off best by appearing in the one good sketch here, a pedantic schoolmaster so mindnumbingly boring he can't keep his class interested even while showing them how he has sex with his wife. "As you can see, I have now entered...oh, do try paying attention!" Cleese avoids most of the rest of the movie, another plus for him. Those Callard & Bowser commercials probably seemed a better idea at the time, and they were.

    On a commentary track for the DVD, principal director Jones and Gilliam, who directed a meandering opening sequence about pirate accountants and some smaller bits, talk very contentedly about the film, Gilliam enthusing about how smooth and professional the troupe performed at this time. They are smooth, but rarely funny.

    The one sketch the two directors criticize in the whole film is a bit where two men dressed as a tiger apparently make off with someone's leg. It strikes them as very early Python, and indeed it is, from a time when their inspired, mind-warping silliness made them comedic successors to the Beatles, as George Harrison often maintained.

    The sketch is dodgy, but it's about the only glimmer of that old light to be found. Otherwise, the Pythons seem more interested in outraging viewers than entertaining them, with healthy doses of blood, vomit, and religion-bashing. There's a saying the worst thing you can give creative people is anything they want. That the Pythons enjoyed no censorship and a big budget puts them too often at their self-indulgent, lazy worst.

    Maybe the problem was that Cleese, Palin, Gilliam, and Idle had already struck out successfully as individuals by this point, and saw the whole Python deal as just a few extra bob rather than anything important. Maybe the long layoff since their last big project, "Life Of Brian", made them shyer about speaking their minds regarding weaknesses in each other's material. Maybe they needed to give Chapman more to do. He was the star in "Brian" and "Monty Python And The Holy Grail", a cheerfully daft center for the others to bounce off of. Here he stands out mostly for a scene where he is chased by a group of bare-breasted maidens.

    The breasts are nice, anyway; almost making up for the fact their placement has no point. Nothing has a point in "Meaning Of Life", and after more than 90 pointless minutes of it, you will never be so happy to see Death arrive to crash the party.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This one and "The Life of Brian" top their list, in my humble opinion. Each time this rolls around on cable TV I expect finally to find it boring but rarely do. If I can make it to the second sketch, the aquarium with the fish, I'm hooked. Now, I can't spell out too many of the situations without ruining the surprises, but I can't resist those fish.

    We see an underwater scene with a fake fish swimming slowly back and forth. Another fish enters and they exchange gruff, "Good mornings." One by one other fish swim into the scene and each time, there is the same "good morning" exchange, very ritualized and formal. There is a brief conversation between the fishes. (All of them have hideous humanoid face.) "Anything new?" "Wot?" "I say, anything new?" "No, nothing much new." One of the fishes faces the camera and exclaims, "Look! Howard's being EATEN." And the camera shows us that the fish are in a restaurant aquarium, the kind from which ultra-fresh live fish are hand picked to serve as an entrée.

    We see the fussily dressed waiter bending down to show the customer his nicely prepared decapitate piscine preparation.

    "Hmmm," one of the fish wonders aloud. "Makes you THINK, doesn't it?" Then the opening credits roll -- "Monty Python's Meaning of Life." Granted this description loses something in being transposed from one medium to another, but if you don't find this amusing you may not appreciate the rest of the film.

    There are some dozen or so sketches, none of which fall entirely flat, but some of which are stronger than others. The most offensive by far is the fat man, M. Creosote, who waddles into a fancy French restaurant in the fattest FAT SUIT known to man or beast. He literally drags his belly along the floor. The staff rush to seat him and cater to him. (Throughout the film, much of the humor derives from the unflappability of the cast, no matter how dire the circumstances -- selling one's children for use is scientific experiments, losing a leg ("Woke up and -- one sock too many") or death. The waiters provide the rebarbative M. Creosote with a bucket to puke into and M. Creosote uses it -- not delicately but voluminously, all over the floor and the other diners. When he's eaten and drunk what appears to be the entire stock of the restaurant, no more than a tiny head on a balloon of a body, dribbling vomit, the waiter entices him into trying just one more dessert, wafer thin. The waiter gingerly feeds it to him, then dives behind a wall as M. Creosote explodes like a bomb, drenching the entire interior of the establishment and causing all the other customers to become ill.

    I see I've already ruined two gags. Okay. I'll try reining myself in. But I'm compelled to mention some dialog in the scene in which death visits a quartet of diners at home because of some tainted salmon mousse. An American man in a loud jacket and tie removes his pipe and begins to argue with the Grim Reaper. "Shuddup!" orders the Reaper. "All you Americans talk too much. You talk and talk. You say things like, 'I wanna tell you something,' and 'Just lemme say this!'" I'm laughing too hard to go on and it's just as well that I quit now. But maybe I should add that the last sketch, following Death, shows us a heaven staged like a Las Vegas show, and it's ridiculed. Maybe Monty Python, in deliberately throwing away any attempt to define the meaning of life, has bootlegged a philosophy into the story after all. Marcus Aurelius recommended "waiting for death with a cheerful mind" and observed that "death looks at all of us and the best we can do is smile back." Like other Stoics, he assumed that people should not fear that which is natural. "Why should a man have any apprehension about the change and dissolution of all the elements? For it is according to nature, and nothing is evil which is according to nature" Albert Einstein described his own attitude towards death in similar terms. "It is a natural event." If you're uncertain about this being your cup of tea, my advice would be to watch it for ten or fifteen minutes. If you aren't grabbed by then, watch something else.
  • I love every movie and show Monty Python have ever done, except this one. It felt as though instead of trying to be funny they were only going for shock value. Nothing in this movie is particularly funny, while there are several segments that are particulary offensive. There are some good points to this movie, such as Eric Idle's Galaxy Song but most of the movie is falls pitifully short from the hilarious comedy I have come to expect from the best comedians of all time. This movie is not only completely offensive but also not very funny. The only part of this movie worth seeing is the little segment at the begining called "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" which was directed by Terry Gilliam. This 15 minute episode is absolutely hilarious, which sets you up for a hilarious Python movie, only to be dissapointed. Even if you are a Python fan I cannot recommend this movie. I love Monty Python, but I hate this film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I have been a fan of the Flying Circus ever since I had the chance of seeing the reruns on Ponchivision.

    I was watching this movie with great expectations, but I must say I felt disappointed.

    While watching the English comedy group for half an hour is great fun, it's another thing to watch them for two and a half hours.

    Since it's a movie with a more limited audience, they get away with whatever they have in mind, so the jokes are raw and not as funny or guilt-free as in the show. I can notice that all six performers say their lines more viciously, with a "we know this is annoying" kind of look.

    I particularly felt displeased with the Mr. Creosote skit. I can say that after watching it, Terry Jones has lost my respect. But, the ghastly scene does has it's audience.

    The skit with the tiger was perhaps the funniest, if not the only one that didn't make me feel guilty of something.

    The length of the film makes it drag a lot, so it's my opinion that the Monty Python "stream of consciousness" style works excellently on TV, but not on film.

    I still love those classic sketches and I still have to see "Holy Grail" and "Life of Brian", but "The Meaning of Life" is my least favorite. Sorry.
  • As always with films that are basically a long series of short sketches it's hard to keep the material even in quality. That problem is evident here too. Some of the better sketches are among Pythons funniest, others are hardly funny at all. This is undoubtedly the darkest of their work, a very bleak and sometimes grim look at society. And it's also in these darkest moments that the movie is at it's most flawed.

    I did like the opening part, "The Crimson Permanent Insurance" even though it's got almost nothing to do with the rest of the movie. It has the quirky style of Terry Gilliam that usually doesn't really appeal to me, but this time it did. The other episodes, that all deal with different stages of life (including some aspects of life like "Fighting each other") are mostly also well done. The one i found to be least funny is the last part called "Death". It wasn't awful, just not very good. The rest of the movie is somewhat of a roller-coaster going from not very funny to brilliant. The "Mr Creosote"-scene as it's called being the most disgusting and over-the-top part, the part showing the war in Africa (and two men dressed as a tiger) being among the funniest.

    For someone not too familiar with Monty Pythons work this might not be a good start. Rather one should try to watch one of their more light-hearted work. While i find this movie to have it's points, actually i think many parts are quite funny, there is still a streak of black which disturbs the experience. I know a lot of people who dislike this movie, and granted it's not for everyone. But for fans of Monty Python or their brand of comedy in general, there are still parts here well worth watching. I rate this 5/10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    SPOILERS Once upon a time, six amazing friends teamed up together to write one of the finest British comedies of all time. They would collectively be known as 'Monty python' and the series was "Monty Python's Flying Circus". Shown from 1969 to 1974, the series featured some of the funniest comedy ever created in this country.

    In 1983 the Pythons came together once more to create "The Meaning of Life". More sketch orientated than previous film collaborations, it is a bit of a disappointment to many Python fans. Inconsistent and only occasionally hilarious, the film is saved mainly due to one or two brilliant new songs. Still, despite it's disappointments, it is still a Python film and there are moments when that skill and genius are evident.

    As one fish says to another "what's it all about?". Well Monty Python is about to tell you. Starting from birth and proceeding through to death, "The Meaning of Life" educates us all through comedy sketches and music.

    The problem with "The Meaning of Life" is that it is often just not that funny. Stories involving the vomiting Mr Creosote (Terry Jones) and the random long armed man (again Jones) are easily remembered for the wrong reasons, whilst other moments of the film are easily forgettable. This in itself is unique for Python and it is a shame.

    Still, there are moments of the film when the old Python is resurrected. A surreal story involving the Grim Reaper is brilliant. As is a "Zulu" spoof where dying soldiers are more concerned by a General's scratch. Most notably though are songs like "Every Sperm is Sacred" and "The Meaning of Life". Whether sang by Michael Palin or Eric Idle, it's moments like these which save the film from being forgettable. Sadly though, they are far too few.

    Unlike other "Monty Python" films, "The Meaning of Life" is a huge disappointment. At times instantly forgettable, the film never really lives up to the strengths of previous efforts. There are moments, most notably the songs, but these are too rare and the film soon disappears from the mind. Forgettable.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    WARNING: REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.

    As a Monty Python film this is preferable to most, largely because it's their sole film (using original material, at any rate) that returns to the sketch-based format.

    Whereas Holy Grail and Life of Brian had tried to adopt feature-length narratives, Meaning of Life is divided into eight sub-sections, as well as "The End of the Film" and the amusing "Middle of the Film". The humour present is perhaps more appealing to non-fans, as a sticking point is the Pythons' continual obsession with intellectualising trivial issues. Here they trivialise intellectual issues, which is far more satisfying.

    As with any Python activity, it's really very hit and miss, and there are plenty of misses. The end, for one. A rant by Terry Jones at the then-current state of the film industry seems a bit like pots and kettles, and the second section, "Growth and Learning" just goes too full out to shock. In fact, most of the film is like this, with a juvenile need to offend, which is odd considering even the youngest Python was forty at this stage. Yet this urge to break every last taboo gives us digs at Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, Jews, Africans and Americans. We get women talking openly about their periods and young naked children discussing reproduction with their father. There are also some gratuitous topless shots at the end, though I won't complain about that part too much. At the time it was all probably very risqué and daring, though it seems strangely tame, and even inept these days.

    The opening mini-feature, The Crimson Permanent Assurance, seems a gracious attempt by the team to allow Gilliam a Brazil try-out. It's nicely directed (better than the main film, in fact) though doesn't really go anywhere, or indeed be funny at all. It ends with a song, feebly playing on the words Accountancy/Accountant Sea. Still, it only lasts fifteen minutes I suppose... The opening proper is a ghastly sketch with Cleese as a heartless Doctor, saying lines like "Can I put the tube in the baby's head?" Cleese... posh bloke that shouts... no, I still don't get why that's supposed to be funny.

    But there is a fair amount of good stuff in there, if not exactly side-splitting. The one bit that did make me laugh out loud was the least sophisticated moment, and arguably the most famous, the Mr. Creosote restaurant scene. An insanely obese man who vomits everywhere (including four times over the back of a cleaning lady) this puerile, gross-out humour is undeniably amusing. This then leads on to another great moment, Eric Idle's French waiter leading the camera away to explain his philosophy on the meaning of life. Having explained it and seeing the underwhelmed response, Idle starts screaming at the camera, telling us what to do if we don't like it.

    "Fighting Each Other" is another nice segment, with three brief satires on war. Perhaps the best is where an army captain, trying to fight his way out of a bunker, is given gifts by his regiment. Seeing Chapman trying to avoid enemy fire while being presented with a full-length grandfather clock is an amusing touch. Idle appears as an embittered Scots soldier, bemoaning the fact that a soldier can shoot people and be praised for it, but a civilian cannot. "At home they'd hang me. Here they'll give me a f*****g medal!" My favourite bit though has to be Eric stepping from a fridge in a neon pink suit, walking out into space while singing "Galaxy Song". It's not particularly funny, but it does get across some of the sense of scale and wide scope that makes this film rewarding. Well, it would if it didn't also highlight the film's modest budget. There's also an Oliver! spoof and a mickey-take of Johnny Mathis to contend with. Gilliam oddly only gets one sustained cartoon, a nice sketch about leaves committing suicide.

    Okay, it all could have been a lot better. Despite what their fans would have you think, "quality control" are two words unlikely to have troubled the Pythons. But this is a refreshing change of tack for the group, even down to Idle's Noel Coward take off. Usually Coward in Python would have sung about currency or foreign politics, but here he just gets to reel off a ditty about penises. It's this no-limits, full-bore attitude that makes for interesting, if not actually all that funny, viewing. And as the final Python film, then the ultimate question of life itself was a subject they were long overdue in tackling. 6/10.
  • ... but certainly funny in many places. The final Death bit leading into 'Christmas in Heaven' is great; the Live Organ Transplants, Every Sperm ..., the stolen leg, 'Find the Fish', and the pregnant mum and the machine that goes 'ping' come close. Oh, and Terry G. in hideous drag ... The jury's out on Mr Creosote. I can see *why* it is thought of as funny but its just a bit too gross for me. Not the first Python film to watch. See Brian or Grail first, the tv episodes, anything. This one is really a swansong in taste as well as everything else. Has its moments but ultimately flawed.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I have to be blunt and say this movie should have been a lot better, every Python seems to agree with that, but I think they are approaching it the wrong way. They have said again and again the thing needed a structure or plot, but with the attitude here, I don't think that would have helped.

    This movie is just big and bloated indulgence. From musical numbers with barely a joke (The Christmas in Heaven bit and Dick song, I mean, the other two were done well enough) to looooonnnngggg bits that are sets up to rather small jokes, I got the feeling that Terry Jones just felt he could spend his way out of any problem.

    The other two movies strike me as being more inventive and clever, and I have a theory that's because they were made by comparatively young men with so little money they thought with brains instead of checkbooks.

    Though I completely love the Short Film, so maybe I don't have a point.

    Either way, very uneven. There. A long, boring review and I finally get to the point... Just like this movie.
  • This is more like the Flying Circus show than the other two movies. It is also full of songs. Luckily, the songs are hilarious. Like, "Every Sperm is Sacred" and "Isn't fun to have a Penis." Fun for the whole family. Like in the other two films by Python they go for the throat. Nothing is sacred. (except possibly sperm) From birth to death they spoof everything we dumb humans have gone through and man is it ugly. Thank Jehovah for humor!!! (I know, I'm only making it worse for myself.) Besides, give it a look for old Tim's sake.
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