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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 64,209 users  
Reviews: 189 user | 55 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 / 'Meaning of Life' Singer / Mr. Moore / Mrs. Blackitt / Watson / Blackitt / Atkinson / Perkins / Victim #3 / Front End / Mrs. Hendy / Man in Pink / Noël Coward / Gaston / 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
...
...
Mrs. Williams
...
Nurse #1
Andrew MacLachlan ...
Groom / Wycliff / Victim #1 / Guest #3
Mark Holmes ...
Victim #2 / Troll Waiter / Guest #2
Valerie Whittington ...
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 | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It took God six days to create the earth, and Monty Python just 90 minutes to screw it up. 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

Headmaster: [while having sex with his wife, notices Carter is playing with something] Carter?
Carter: Yes sir?
Headmaster: What is it Carter?
Carter: An ocarina, sir...
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the opening credits, the title is initially written as "MEANING OF LIFF", then a lightning strike corrects that to "LIFE". A book, "The Meaning of Liff", written by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd was published in 1983. See more »

Connections

References Jaws 3-D (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

Oh Lord Please Don't Burn Us
Lyrics by John Cleese & Graham Chapman
Music by Eric Idle & John Du Prez
Performed by Michael Palin, John Cleese and chorus
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Monty Python's final film adventure

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.


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