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Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)

  Directed by: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
Written by: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
Links: Monty Python's The Meaning of Life on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Comedy

This movie gets: 9.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983) is also mentioned in mino's review of Stuck On You (2003), mino's review of The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983) and pearly's review of The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983).

"So long, and thanks for all the fish" - a review by pearly

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life is one of the most sketch-like Monty Python movies, but not necessarily the funniest. Coming in a couple of years after the more movie-like (i.e. with a plot that followed through from start to finish, rather than just jumping from one idea to the next) Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and Life of Brian (1979), this is the last real Monty Python movie.

To nerds everywhere (myself included), there are more memorable bits in this movie than I can be bothered recounting, so what I'll do instead is tell you my favourite character played by each of the Pythons:

  • Graham Chapman - Harry Blackitt, the protestant who is most definitely allowed to buy a condom if he so chooses.
  • John Cleese - Humphrey Williams, the teacher who rambles on about putting clothes onto lower pegs, and then gives a graphic class in sex ed.
  • Terry Gilliam - The leaves on the tree; yep, his animation has to win out over his physical roles, and those poor leaves who fall to their deaths has to be his best work in this film.
  • Eric Idle - Man in pink, the singer who convinces people to give up their organs by showing them how insignificant they really are.
  • Terry Jones - Mr Creosote, by far the easiest one to pick out of the whole lot. I mean, how can you go past a guy who orders one of each from the menu?
  • Michael Palin - Lady Presenter, the delightful host of the movie who introduces "Find the Fish" and finally tells us the meaning of life.

Yep, that does a pretty good job of it, but birth doesn't even get a look in, with its machine that goes ping. Neither, for that matter, does the guy who gets to choose his own method of death, or the soldiers with presents for their officer, or the salmon mousse which killed all the dinner guests. Ahhh, all such funny memories.

For more reasons than just its structure, this is quite a different film to the others mentioned above. And while it is outrageously funny, it is not as well-rounded a movie experience - it's more like a really long Flying Circus episode (but perhaps ruder). Still, it's a trillion times better to watch this Monty Python film than it is to watch most of the other utter comedic rubbish that's out there. All hail Monty Python, kings among men.

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 20 Oct 2003

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Reader comments

  1. When I first saw find the fish it didn't seem funny, then a few weeks later a rememberedit and burst out lauging(if your looking for the fish it's in the fire)

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Liam on Sat 06 Nov 2004 21:11 #

  2. Does anyone know who the company was who made the prosthetic fish for the "Where's the fish" sequence in "Meaning of Life"?

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Peter Gregg on Sun 20 Feb 2005 07:40 #

  3. Does anyone know if the DVD version comes with the "Crimson Permanent Insurance" (?) short as they always cut it on TV.

    A comment from nofreelist's own timchuma on Sun 22 May 2005 02:45 #

  4. Why yes, The Crimson Permanent Assurance is on there. It holds up fairly well, too. Check out some reviews:
    http://nofreelist.com/review/?movieid=499

    A comment from nofreelist's own pearly on Tue 24 May 2005 11:01 #

  5. I swear I saw the dead-spit for Mr Creosote appear in the silent movie "Piccadilly" as a drunk customer at the start of the movie.

    A comment from nofreelist's own timchuma on Thu 10 Nov 2005 15:30 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.50 (2 ratings)

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