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|Index||80 reviews in total|
"And Now For Something Completely Different" is an entertaining, if very uneven, compilation film, moving along so quickly and including so many different sketches that it's hard to reject it as a whole, even when you dislike some parts. Brilliant episodes ("Dead Parrot", "Mountaineering Sketch", "Upper-class Twit-Of-The-Year Competition")alternate with bummers ("The World's Deadliest Joke", "Marriage Councelor") and with mildly funny parts (The accountant that wants to become a lion tamer), but the film generally maintains that surrealistic, subversive Python flavor that their fans seek.
A straight reworking of the best loved sketches from the TV series.The sketches are not as fresh as the originals and feel almost forced and as a consequence lose a lot of the energy that made them so refreshing.The film served little purpose other than to introduce the team's humour to an American audience.
Maybe this isn't the best Monty Pyton has done, but there are some of the finest Flying Circus in between. I mean, The joke that is so funny, that you die laughing, and how to stay camouflaged are really funny. If you do like Monty Pyton this is a must.
Highlights the funnier sketches. The "Marriage Counselor" skit with Eric Idle just cracks me up as does the "Clean Fork" and "Mountain Expedition". Just great stuff. If you like this you will definitely like "Parrot Sketch Not Included", very funny too with lesser known (but just as funny) skits.
I don't know why I didn't get more out of this. Several isolated times
a stern and sober British Army officer is interpolated and announces to
the viewers that this isn't worth watching because "it's silly -- just
silly." I ruefully found myself often agreeing.
I don't suppose there's any point in trying to outline a plot because there is none. It's a series of sketches evidently gotten from their TV show. I first heard the "dead parrot" sketch on the radio and thought it was hilarious. Now, seeing it on the screen, it seems to have lost much of its voltage. Nor did I find it so amusing when a despondent man leaves a building, stops to think for a moment, and a huge iron weight falls on him and he splats under it.
It's possible that this particular material is already familiar, so that watching the film is like hearing a joke for the second or third time. It's also likely that it doesn't seem so fresh or amusing because some of it is dated. The movie was put together in 1971, when much of Western society was in turmoil -- race riots in the streets, an unpopular war in a country no one could identify on a blank map, gays screaming out of the closet, widespread sexual indulgence, bloodshed in Northern Ireland, pop tunes encouraging revolution, that sort of thing. But it's all gone or at least abated today. So the "Granny gangs" don't resonate the way they did at the time. At the same time, the "upper-class twit" sketch still gets laughs. I mean, hunting live rabbits that are staked out and spread-eagled on the ground! Trying to commit suicide by shooting one's self -- and missing. I'm laughing now, just rerunning it in my mind.
Each of their four features were to improve monotonically, with "The Meaning of Life" nearing perfection of the style. That last one is mature. Well, mature for Monty Python. And it's both engaging and carries a covert theme of the utmost seriousness. The Granny Gangs are long gone, but questions about the meaning of life, or the absence of meaning, still plague us.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Although this film is only a retread of the most famous skits from the
first and second season of the famed TV-series you got no choice than
to go along with it and enjoy. There is not much new here and if the
Pythons are completely unknown to you you will probably find it
The choice to not alter too many lines from the original skits is a smart choice. It would ruin the whole idea to have some of the jokes rewritten to appeal to a wider audience. The Pythons have always had the attitude that either you get them or you don't.
Both Carol Cleveland and the former Mrs. Cleese, Connie Booth make appearances as in the TV-series and Terry Gilliam's animation is only slightly remodeled from the originals. So what can you say? Was it a bad idea to reproduce the skits - maybe. But to see the Pythons in full swing is always a pleasure so who cares? Maybe there will be a new Python reunion movie, minus the late Graham Chapman of course and that would probably be a lot worse. It is better to remember them when they were in top form and here they certainly are.
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.
The first of the four MONTY PYTHON movies is simply a compilation of
popular sketches from the first series of the TV show MONTY PYTHON'S
FLYING CIRCUS. All of the most famous sketches are here, from the
lumberjack song to the dead parrot sequence, and they're all handled
While the series has clearly dated in the forty years since release, I found AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY to have plenty to offer to modern viewers. First, there's the influx of surreal humour that would make the likes of Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel proud; secondly, there's a sense of madcap energy coming from the performers, each of them hard at work playing multiple roles throughout, and third, it just happens to be very funny.
Of the entire film, my favourite sketch is the last, the 'Upper Class Twit of the Year' competition, but that's merely the cherry on a hugely tasty cake. There's a definite predominance of successful over unsuccessful gags here, making this a real riot and a perfect introduction to the concept for newcomers.
*** 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 ***
While the Americans have a habit of taking movies and turning them into
TV series, the Brits do it the other way round - we have a large number
of cinema movies which have been spun off TV series.
The Python crew's first outing onto the big screen is an unassuming affair - it takes a number of sketches from the series, most of which had been seen (and those which hadn't soon would be), and reproduces them on film as opposed to videotape. In that respect, they are of considerably better image quality than the video standard of the time and, of course, they don't have a laugh track.
And they are all good sketches, well reproduced here, and an excellent reminder of what made Python successful in the first place.
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