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This is a collection of many of the best and most loved sketches from the Flying Circus, redone on a (slightly!) bigger budget, and with a film crew instead of on sets. That of course means the camera-work is more loose and with proper, attractive cinematography, the editing more crisp, and the production value increases noticeably(better FX, sound quality, etc.). The parts tend to be played by the same members and extras(the lovely Carol Cleveland included), and much of the animation is reused. Things are put in a different order to keep things fresh, and some of the segues are changed, as well. Timing is at times less sharp than the original version, but they certainly put the same passion and effort into it. The Dead Parrot, "Say no more" man, "the importance of not being seen" and many others. This is like a reel of the greatest of the episodes, coming in at slightly less than 90 minutes. Of course there are slow points, and there is, indeed, no new material here. And yes, if you are unfamiliar with them, I'd try to watch the show before this. There is a lot of bloody, violent, disturbing content, a little sexuality and brief topless female nudity in this. I recommend it to long-time fans. 8/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The best and not the best sketches from the Monty Python's Flying Circus strung together. The film contains most of the favorite sketches from the show done over on actual locations and not in a studio with some new (and old) animation to link them. Its a grand old time for those who love the show and the sketches, and the perfect primer for those wanting to know what all of the fuss is about. Odds are that if the film makes you laugh, you'll like Python and its brand of off kilter humor. Is it the best of the films? no. Nor is it really the best showcase for some of the sketches. Part of the problem is that the arrangement of the sketches isn't ideal. They don't really flow as neatly into each other as on the show. The other problem is direction of the sketches isn't ideal. Frankly the director didn't understand much of the humor and what was tight sketch comedy on the TV show is much too loose here. Still, despite its flaws the film will make you laugh. Recommended.
This movie was my first introduction to the insanely hilarious world of Monty Python, and an excellent intro it was too! One really good point is that you get to see so many different characters and hilarious situations with the collection-type format. A few of my favourites are the Blackmail game show, "nudge nudge wink wink", the mountain climbing thing in the office, the Twit of the Year competition and too many others! Fabulous!
Certainly this is an excellent introduction to Monty Python.
In matter of fact, I think it was because of this film that I happened to develop an interest in Monty Python. However, I will admit that the tamer renditions in the film weren't exactly as funny as the originals, although I do like that "International Chinese Communist Conspiracy" rendering therein....
To criticize AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT on the grounds
of obsolescence would seem an heretical thing to do. Monty Python had
such a profound influence on the development of British comedy in the
late Sixties and Seventies that their place in history is perpetually
assured. And yet looking at the film nearly forty-five years later, it
has to be said that much of the humor is puerile, the kind of thing
that might be expected in a student production performed at the end of
the spring semester. Some of the sketches go on far too long, while the
more surreal moments - such as the opening sequence, involving a series
of people trying not to be seen and getting blown up - are highly
reminiscent of THE GOON SHOW, the groundbreaking radio program of the
Fifties that provide much of Python's antecedents.
Nonetheless, for those that grew up with Python on television, film and the theater (as well as those fortunate enough to attend their series of concerts last year), AND NOW ... contains several immortal moments, such as the Parrot sketch, the upper-class twit of the year and the Lumberjack song. It's also interesting to reflect on what happened to the performers: Michael Palin, the singer in the last-named of these sketches, would eventually go on to become an established television documentary presenter and all-round celebrity appearing on innumerable tribute programs; while John Cleese would end up carving out a career as a film actor and (latterly) an autobiographer.
Some of the sketches could now be considered both sexist and racist; there are at least two occasions where viewers are encouraged to look at half-naked women and ogle them in a spirit more reminiscent of THE BENNY HILL SHOW than Monty Python. There is also one moment of dialog - obviously meant parodically - where Eric Idle talks about not wanting to live next door to "those kind of people" i.e. African-Caribbeans. Nonetheless, we should bear in mind that AND NOW ... is very much a product of its time; in the early Seventies such attitudes were still considered permissible (the ITV sitcom LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR had the white protagonist continually insulting his African-Caribbean neighbor). The location filming (such as it is) conjured up a now-vanished world of inner London, with traffic-free streets and a predominantly white population.
Definitely worth a look, but don't expect anything too humorous, especially if viewers are unfamiliar with the Pythons.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*** MAJOR SPOILER ALERT *** A man walks into the office of a guidance
counselor, and takes a seat. The counselor advises the man that he has
looked over his aptitude tests and has concluded that the best position
suited to him would be as an accountant. "But I am an accountant," the
man says, "I have been one for the past 20 years. I want something
exciting that will let me live." He reports that his current job is
desperately dull and boring, to which the counselor informs him that
his tests reveal that he is dull and boring. The job he wants: lion
tamer. This despite the fact he has no training and seems to have
mistaken lions for aardvarks. He does have a proper hat though. The
counselor informs us that "This is what accountancy does to people."
That's the grand anarchic spirit of Monty Python. Grab a normal
scenario and whip it into something so over-exaggerated and silly that
we almost have to laugh at the concept. I think the British are experts
at this. There's a drollery to their delivery that allows a scene like
that to work. Week after week, this was what made the best parts of The
Monty Python troup's TV show "Monty Python's Flying Circus" work. They
adopted a sort-of shotgun approach to their sketches, firing every idea
at us no matter how ridiculous and hoping that one of them would make
The laugh ratio on the show was about 40%. Some sketched worked but many did not. Their first feature film And Now for Something Completely Different culls their best sketches into a kind of "Best of" collection. These sketches are not just replays from the show, but actually reenactments, on film without an audience. The laugh ratio in the film is about 70/30. Many of their ideas work if you're willing to stretch your imagination.
The troup, which is comprised of six players - Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin - work exhaustively throughout this film to play more than 100 different characters, are so willing to make us laugh that they will come up with nearly anything. That would explain an opening scene featuring a man who claims to have a tape recorder up his nose. He presses one nostril and the tape plays "La Marseillaise". He presses the other nostril and he can rewind the tape. Even stranger is the follow-up act featuring the man's brother who suffers from the same affliction, this time the song plays in stereo. Far from classic comedy, but you get the idea.
My favorite is a sketch called "Hell's Grannies", which involves a news report dealing with a roving gang of little old ladies who beat young men over the head with their pocket books. We see them in their flowered hats, swinging their purses and roaring around on their motorcycles while wrapped in shawls. One nervous citizen in a leather jacket and a Jolly Roger helmet informs us that "It's not even safe to go out to the shops anymore." The news reporter lets us know that their domain is "a world in which the surgical stocking is king". Only slightly worse are a roving gang of baby snatchers, grown men in diapers who snatch adults from in front of grocery stores.
One of the best creative touches in the film is the way in which the sketches are linked together. One sketch leads into the next in a way this oddly fitting. For example the scene with the accountant ends with a fairy waving his magic wand and giving the accountant something more exciting. That makes him the host of the game show that is the next sketch. It is called "Blackmail" a sadistic game show in which privately obtained films of adultery are shown, and the person on the film has to call in with a cash offer so the show will stop running the film.
All of this is very subjective and no one laughs at exactly the same thing. That's pretty much what makes Monty Python work. Either you are in on the joke or you're looking for laughter elsewhere. Either the sight of an armed bank robber committing his crime only the discover that he has walked into a lingerie shop is funny to you or it isn't. For me, I laughed most of the time, the rest I was left scratching my head. Maybe that was the point.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Most people think that Holy Grail was the first, followed by Life of Brian and Meaning of Life, but, technically, this was the first film from the Monty Python. It is basically a full-length version of the TV sketch show Flying Circus, recycling all the best and well-known sketches into a film. Starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Carol Cleveland, all in various roles, with Fawlty Towers' (and Cleese's wife at the time) Connie Booth as Best Girl. The sketches included in the film are: "How Not to Be Seen", "The Statue" (of Michael Angelo's David), "Hell's Grannies", "The Funniest Joke in the World", "Killer Cars", "Blackmail" (the game-show), and finishing with "Upper Class Twit of the Year". All the sketches I saw on The 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches, "Lumberjack Song" (number 48), "Nudge Nudge" (number 31) and "Dead Parrot" (number 2). I was disappointed it didn't include "The Ministry of Silly Walks" (number 15) and "The Spanish Inquisition" (number 12), I didn't get all the gags, and I much preferred Holy Grail and Life of Brian with their plots, but for the animations and some of the above sketches, this is certainly worth watching. John Cleese was number 14 on The 50 Greatest British Actors, John Cleese was number 14 on The 50 Greatest British Actors, Eric Idle was number 21, and Cleese number 2 on The Comedians' Comedian, "Nudge nudge, wink wink" was number 11, and "And now for something completely different" number 5 on 50 Greatest Comedy Catchphrases, and Monty Python's Flying Circus was number 5 on The 100 Greatest TV Shows. Very good!
The phrase "And Now for Something Completely Different" originated with
the British television personality Christopher Trace, who as presenter
of the children's programme Blue Peter used it to link items on
differing topics. It was taken up by other TV programmes and became a
catchphrase on "Monty Python's Flying Circus", so much so that it was
used as the title when the Pythons made their first film in 1971.
Rather bizarrely, the film was produced by Victor Lownes, of Playboy
fame, who saw it as the ideal way to introduce Americans to the
mysteries of the Python cult.
Unlike the other three Python films ("Monty Python and the Holy Grail", "Monty Python's Life of Brian" and "The Meaning of Life"), this one does not contain any original material. It consists of sketches taken from the first two series of the TV show, linked by some of Terry Gilliam's surreal animation sequences. The sketches were not taken direct from the television version but were specially remade for the film; some of them were slightly rewritten. I remember getting into a heated debate with a school friend, now a distinguished Professor of History at Oxford, about whether the famous "Dead Parrot Sketch" contains the lines "It has rung down the curtain and joined the choir eternal"; it turned out that I had seen the film version, which does contains these lines, and he had seen the television one, which doesn't.
Although, as the "Not the Nine O'clock News" team once pointed out, Britain is still ostensibly a Python-worshipping country, Pythonesque humour is an acquired taste, and attempting to explain its appeal to anyone who is not a Python-worshipper is a forlorn hope. (I have tried, and failed miserably, with my wife). This is probably a generational thing; I belong to that generation which came of age in the seventies and which prided itself on its ability to repeat Python sketches verbatim, but even in that period there was a large part of the older generation which reacted to the show in much the same way as Graham Chapman's colonel. "This is getting silly. And a bit suspect, I think". As for anyone born since 1980, and many people born since 1970, I suspect that they may regard the show with the same bafflement that my generation reserved for old radio shows like ITMA. ("Did people really use to laugh at that?")
Even as a practising Pythonist I have to admit that not all the sketches in "And Now For Something Completely Different" are hilarious; "Musical Mice", for example, does not seem nearly so funny today as it probably once did, and some of the animation segments now look a bit dated. There is not much to link the various sketches together, so film does not flow in the same way as "The Holy Grail" or "Life of Brian", both of which consisted of a series of linked sketches which together formed a coherent narrative. Nevertheless, much of the material here is brilliantly funny.
My particular favourites include:-
Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook (In which John Cleese's Hungarian gentlemen is misled by an inaccurate phrasebook into repeating phrases like "Please will you fondle my buttocks" or "My hovercraft is full of eels" in the belief that he is asking something innocuous like "Where is the railway station?")
Hell's Grannies (A takeoff of the rather earnest tone of British television documentaries of the period).
The Funniest Joke in the World (Or how our boys won the war by telling lethally funny jokes to the Germans).
Dead Parrot (In which Cleese tries to persuade a sceptical Michael Palin that the parrot he has just purchased is dead, is a stiff, is no more, has ceased to be and has shuffled off this mortal coil. Perhaps the Pythons' best-known sketch).
Vocational Guidance Counsellor (Or the sketch which did for the accountancy profession what the Black Death did for mediaeval Europe)
Upper Class Twit of the Year . When I first saw this, I assumed that the Upper Class Twits were purely fictitious; it was only when I was invited by my then girlfriend to accompany her to a meeting of the Kensington and Chelsea Young Conservatives that I realised that the Pythons' satire was, if anything, rather understated.
Like a number of other reviewers, I noticed that some of my favourite sketches (The Spanish Inquisition, The Australian Philosophers, Ministry of Silly Walks, etc.) were omitted from the film, although some of those that other reviewers were hoping to see, such as the exploding penguin, appeared in the third or fourth series of the programme and hence had not been written when this film was made. Nevertheless, I think that the Pythons were right to limit the amount of material and hence the length of the film to 90 minutes. The Monty Python format was originally designed for thirty-minute programmes, and would probably have become tedious if it had been dragged out to two hours or more. (This is what happens with "The Meaning of Life", which starts to drag towards the end). "And Now For Something Completely Different" is not the Pythons' greatest film- that must be "Life of Brian"- but it still contains plenty to laugh at. 8/10
The six-member comedy group Monty Python had not yet achieved
international fame when "And Now for Something Completely Different"
was released. It would be four years until "Monty Python and the Holy
Grail" accomplished that. "And Now for Something Completely Different"
is essentially a greatest hits collection from the first half of their
television show. A number of the vignettes are outrageously hilarious.
A few are merely puzzling. Alas, a number of them are unfunny. That is
the part that surprised me.
The marriage counseling and bikini scenes, among others, seem to rely exclusively on being risqué. In real life, some men freeze and stare at pretty women. Many do utterly stupid things. We all know that. Why are we supposed to automatically laugh when we see it? That type of humor wore off when I was 15. Without some other aspect to the joke, I become uncomfortable. Perhaps that style was funnier in 1971. Humor is subjective and undergoes mild changes with the times.
Happily, "And Now for Something Completely Different" is more oasis than desert. A number of parts are great enough to garner hard laughter from people of all ages. The Pythons choose one of their funniest to open the film. It takes the form of a public service message on "How Not to be Seen." The scene's device takes goofy to a whole new level. It is written with the essence of British humor as the joke is gradually blown up to amazing proportions.
In fact, the parts of the movie that work are based on either developing a situation to total absurdity or portraying circumstances so zany only the Pythons could dream them up. The most notable instance is when a restaurant patron makes an innocent request and receives far more than he wants. The film contains the Dead Parrot sketch, possibly their most famous, and the immortal Lumberjack Song. Among the good scenes, I am partial to the Kilimanjaro expedition and The People Falling out of High Buildings.
Graham Chapman shows up as the straight man and reprises his famous role as the colonel who thinks everything is "too silly." Generally, John Cleese has the most demonstrative roles, Eric Idle remains proper throughout the chaos, Michael Palin plays the most outrageous roles, including the Lumberjack; and Terry Jones excels with the most reserved characters. Terry Gilliam creates the cartoons. Each Python had discovered their strength by that time.
"And Now for Something Completely Different" lacks some sketches that I hoped to see such as the "Spanish Inquisition," "Ministry of Silly Walks," and the exploding penguin. In any case, it is a mix of great and awful with the funny times outnumbering the poor ones. I rated the great scenes as a ten, the good ones as a six and the stupid parts a one. Therefore, "And Now for Something Completely Different rates a 6.4 out of ten, which I round up to seven because it opens and closes well.
I have only gotten in part in on Monty Python's Flying Circus, so this
was good terrain for me to get through, kind of like getting one of
those compilation records of the Beatles that they put out in mass
droves when fans just didn't get enough from the actual albums
themselves. Nothing apparently is 'original' to the movie itself, in
other words no segments were made especially for the film (aside from
the animations possibly, though even that I can't be totally sure of).
But one of the good things about seeing the film at this point is that
I got to have a lot of laughs with the sketches I'd already seen and
liked (some of them, like the Parrot sketch- albeit classic in a kind
of vaudevillian way- aren't necessarily my favorites). I really enjoyed
the ones too I hadn't seen, like the Marriage Guidance Counselor sketch
where Michael Palin is in one of his funniest bits to date.
Other classics I really do love, especially on repeat viewings, are the Lumberjack song, with it's always expectable joke funnier than the first, Killer Cars, Man with Tape Recorder Up His Nose, Expedition to Mount Kilmanjaro, and especially the Self Defence Class (maybe my favorite, albeit it might've worked a little better on the show). Flasher too. Sure, it might be a little disconcerting to see some sketches that didn't make it in, or that there are some in there that shouldn't be. It's also a little lackluster- at least in comparison to the later Python films- due to Ian McNaughton being a TV director and more used to the point-and-shoot style of TV as opposed to the camera almost being in on the joke too with Holy Grail and Meaning of Life. But it certainly wasn't a waste of time either. A-
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