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First of all, are you a 'Python' fan? If the answer is 'no' then you'll
probably hate The Meaning of Life. If, on the other hand, the answer is
'yes' then there stands a chance that you'll like it.
Casual fans of the Pythons may not have followed their exploits over their six TV series and only seen their previous films - The Life of Brian and The Holy Grail. Those two were indeed classics - brilliantly written, with plenty of laughs and a great (if surreal) storyline.
Perhaps that's the reason The Meaning of Life was not as well received. For a start it's not a story. It's basically a sketch show, loosely tied together with the theme of searching for the meaning of life (obvious, huh?). And, with any sketch show, some of them work and some don't.
Even a die hard Python fan such as myself couldn't see the humour in the opening (short) film entitled 'The Crimson Permanent Assurance.' I actually skip that opening segment completely as I barely raise a smile at any of it.
However, this is Python after all and, with every 'miss' there are still plenty of 'hits,' most famously of all the (disgustingly) hilarious 'Mr Creosote' sketch which deserves a mention simply because of its brilliant make-up.
So, if you're not expecting a film up to Brian/Grail's standards and are prepared for a few lulls in the humour, then give this a go. It may not be up to the highest standard of Python, but it's still better than most of the 'comedies' around today.
I really don't think there is a better exposure you can get to British humor than the Python group and while I'm sure I'll be threatened with many a flesh wound, this movie is their most hilarious, mostly because instead of telling a cohesive story, it contains shorter vignettes of the stages of life that allowed them to pack in the lunacy without being contained within an extended storyline. There's the absurd and unsentimental miracle of birth, bashing Catholics and a musical number about sperm, live demonstration in a sexual education class, the casual nature of British military commanders, the repulsive last meal of the world's fattest man, organ donation and finally, death and a glimpse of heaven. So much timeless ridiculousness. If you haven't seen it, get your head out of your arse and do. 9/10
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