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The Meaning of Life (1983)

 -  Comedy | Musical  -  31 March 1983 (USA)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 61,565 users  
Reviews: 186 user | 54 critic

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

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Chairman / Fish #1 / Doctor / Harry Blackitt / Wymer / Hordern / General / Coles / Narrator #2 / Dr. Livingstone / Transvestite / Eric / Guest #1 / Arthur Jarrett / Geoffrey / Tony Bennett
...
Fish #2 / Dr. Spencer / Humphrey Williams / Sturridge / Ainsworth / Waiter / Eric's Assistant / Maître D' / Grim Reaper
...
Window Washer / Fish #4 / Walters / Middle of the Film Announcer / M'Lady Joeline / Mr. Brown / Howard Katzenberg
...
Gunther / Fish #3 / Gaston / 'Meaning of Life' Singer / Mr. Moore / Mrs. Blackitt / Watson / Blackitt / Atkinson / Perkins / Victim #3 / Front End / Mrs. Hendy / Man in Pink / Noël Coward / Angela
...
Bert / Fish #6 / Mum / Priest / Biggs / Sergeant / Man with Bendy Arms / Mrs. Brown / Mr. Creosote / Maria / Leaf Father / Fiona Portland-Smythe
...
Window Washer / Harry / Fish #5 / Mr. Pycroft / Dad / Narrator #1 / Chaplain / Carter / Spadger / Regimental Sergeant Major / Pakenham-Walsh / Rear End / Female TV Presenter / Mr. Marvin Hendy / Governor / Leaf Son / Debbie Katzenberg
...
Beefeater Waitress / Wife of Guest #1 / Leaf Mother / Leaf Daughter / Heaven Receptionist
...
Chadwick / Jeremy Portland-Smythe
...
Mrs. Williams
...
Nurse #1
Andrew MacLachlan ...
Groom / Wycliff / Victim #1 / Guest #3
Mark Holmes ...
Victim #2 / Troll Waiter / Guest #2
Valerie Whittington ...
Mrs. Moore
Jennifer Franks ...
Bride
Imogen Bickford-Smith ...
Nurse #2 (as Imogen Bickford Smith)
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Storyline

Why are we here, what's it all about? The Monty Python-team is trying to sort out the most important question on Earth: what is the meaning of life? They do so by exploring the various stages of life, starting with birth. A doctor seems more interested in his equipment than in delivering the baby or caring for the mother, a Roman Catholic couple have quite a lot of children because 'every sperm is sacred'. In the growing and learning part of life, catholic schoolboys attend a rather strange church service and ditto sex education lesson. Onto war, where an officer's plan to attack is thwarted by his underlings wanting to celebrate his birthday and an officer's leg is bitten off by presumably an African tiger. At middle age a couple orders 'philosophy' at a restaurant, after which the film continues with live organ transplants. The autumn years are played in a restaurant, which, after being treated to the song 'Isn't It Awfully Nice to Have a Penis?' by an entertainer, sees the arrival ... Written by Arnoud Tiele (imdb@tiele.nl)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

What it is, Where it is, and how to avoid treading in it [Video Australia] See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

31 March 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (2003 restored director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As Terry Gilliam was filming The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983) with his own crew and sound stage, he enlarged the project and went way over budget, and what was supposed to be a 5 minute scene became a short movie between 20 and 30 minutes long. The group later decided that they couldn't use the sequence in chronological order as featured in the script, right after the staff meeting of the Very Big Corporation of America, because it would make the movie go slower. So they came up with the idea of using it at the beginning as a special presentation, and the scene as we see at the proper movie works sort of an alternative ending for that sequence. Even though they introduced the sequence as a special presentation, they edited it to be only 16 minutes long. See more »

Goofs

During the World War I segment Eric Idle can be seen stifling laughter when he is supposed to be dead. See more »

Quotes

Humphrey: Now, sex. Sex, sex, sex. Where were we?
[pupils can't remember]
Humphrey: Well, had I got as far as the penis entering the vagina?
Pupils: Uh, no, sir. No, sir.
Humphrey: Well, had I done foreplay?
Pupils: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
Humphrey: Ah. Well, as we all know all about foreplay, no doubt you can tell me what the purpose of foreplay is. Biggs.
Biggs: Um, don't know. Sorry, sir.
Humphrey: Carter?
Carter: Oh. Uh, was it taking your clothes off, sir?
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Producers would like to thank all the fish who have taken part in this film. We hope that other fish will follow the example of those who have participated, so that, in future, fish all over the world will live together in harmony and understanding, and put aside their petty differences, cease pursuing and eating each other and live for a brighter, better future for all fish, and those who love them. See more »

Connections

Edited into John Cleese's the Meaning of Life (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Toccata und Fuge in d-Moll, BWV 565
by Johann Sebastian Bach
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
More hilarity on film from the Monty Python team; this time, in sketch-comedy form
21 May 2005 | by (Denmark) – See all my reviews

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


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