7.6/10
100,633
205 user 62 critic

The Meaning of Life (1983)

Trailer
1:03 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
The comedy team takes a look at life in all its stages in their own uniquely silly way.
Reviews
Popularity
4,468 ( 449)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Life of Brian (1979)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Born on the original Christmas in the stable next door to Jesus, Brian of Nazareth spends his life being mistaken for a messiah.

Director: Terry Jones
Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin
Adventure | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table embark on a surreal, low-budget search for the Holy Grail, encountering many, very silly obstacles.

Directors: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An anthology of the best sketches from the first and second seasons of Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969).

Director: Ian MacNaughton
Stars: John Cleese, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

The original surreal sketch comedy showcase for the Monty Python troupe.

Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam
Documentary | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The Monty Python troupe perform a combination of classic sketches and new material at the Hollywood Bowl.

Directors: Terry Hughes, Ian MacNaughton
Stars: John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle
Jabberwocky (1977)
Adventure | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A young peasant, with no interest in adventure or fortune, is mistaken as the kingdom's only hope when a horrible monster threatens the countryside.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Michael Palin, Harry H. Corbett, John Le Mesurier
Time Bandits (1981)
Adventure | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A young boy accidentally joins a band of time travelling dwarves, as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, John Cleese
Adventure | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An account of Baron Munchausen's supposed travels and fantastical experiences with his band of misfits.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: John Neville, Eric Idle, Sarah Polley
Brazil (1985)
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A bureaucrat, in a retro-future world, tries to correct an administrative error and becomes an enemy of the state.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro
Adventure | Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A group of down-and-out accountants mutiny against their bosses and sail their office building onto the high seas in search of a pirate's life.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Sydney Arnold, Guy Bertrand, Andrew Bicknell
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In London, four very different people team up to commit armed robbery, then try to doublecross each other for the loot.

Directors: Charles Crichton, John Cleese
Stars: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Graham Chapman ... Chairman / Fish #1 / Doctor / Harry Blackitt / Wymer / Hordern / General / Coles / Narrator #2 / Dr. Livingstone / Transvestite / Eric / Guest #1 / Arthur Jarrett / Geoffrey / Tony Bennett
John Cleese ... Fish #2 / Dr. Spencer / Humphrey Williams / Sturridge / Ainsworth / Waiter / Eric's Assistant / Maître D' / Grim Reaper
Terry Gilliam ... Window Washer / Fish #4 / Walters / Middle of the Film Announcer / M'Lady Joeline / Mr. Brown / Howard Katzenberg
Eric Idle ... 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
Terry Jones ... Bert / Fish #6 / Mum / Priest / Biggs / Sergeant / Man with Bendy Arms / Mrs. Brown / Mr. Creosote / Maria / Leaf Father / Fiona Portland-Smythe
Michael Palin ... 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
Carol Cleveland ... Beefeater Waitress / Wife of Guest #1 / Leaf Mother / Leaf Daughter / Heaven Receptionist
Simon Jones ... Chadwick / Jeremy Portland-Smythe
Patricia Quinn ... Mrs. Williams
Judy Loe ... Nurse #1
Andrew MacLachlan Andrew MacLachlan ... Groom / Wycliff / Victim #1 / Guest #3
Mark Holmes Mark Holmes ... Victim #2 / Troll Waiter / Guest #2
Valerie Whittington Valerie Whittington ... Mrs. Moore
Jennifer Franks Jennifer Franks ... Bride
Imogen Bickford-Smith Imogen Bickford-Smith ... Nurse #2 (as Imogen Bickford Smith)
Edit

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:

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:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 March 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,987,000, 3 April 1983, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$14,929,552
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (2003 restored director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

US trailer narrated by Percy Rodrigues. See more »

Goofs

When The Grim Reaper talks to the couple and their dinner guests, the boom mic moves along the fabric ceiling. See more »

Quotes

Strange Man: I wonder where that fish has gone!
Transvestite: You did love it so! You looked after it like a son!
Strange Man: [Bends perplexingly long arms]
Strange Man: And it went... where-ever I... did go!
Transvestite: Is it in the cupboard?
Audience: Yes! Yes!
Transvestite: Wouldn't you like to know? It was a lovely little fish!
Transvestite: And it went... where-ever I... did go!
Audience: It's behind the sofa!
Transvestite: Where can that fish be?
[...]
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 »

Alternate Versions

The Director's Cut has three more scenes. The first is after the scene with the Protestant couple talking about condoms. It is the Adventures of Martin Luther. The second scene comes between the marching around the square scene and the Zulu army scene. It is a promotional video about the British army. The third and last is an extension of the the American characters that Eric Idle and Michael Palin do. They are shown their room and talk about tampons. See more »

Connections

Featured in Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Penis Song
Music and Lyrics by Eric Idle
Performed by Eric Idle
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

A great comedy which may be crass and rude, but is not lacking in typical Python wit
11 January 2008 | by ametaphysicalsharkSee all my reviews

The best thing about "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life" is without a doubt the short film that opens it. Directed by Terry Gilliam and originally conceived as an animated sequence, "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" is a crucial step in Gilliam's career as a director. His previous two solo efforts as director, the inconsequential "Jabberwocky" and the brilliant-in-its-own-way "Time Bandits" saw him developing his visual style much further than he did for his scenes for "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", with "Time Bandits" arguably being the first 'Gilliam-esque' film he made. Still, "Time Bandits" didn't see his style fully developed, and "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" is an even more bizarre film, but with a far more confident and clear-cut visual style. Simply put: Gilliam was ready for "Brazil". This segment is the best in the film from a cinematic viewpoint, without a doubt, and even gives some of the other segments a run for their money in terms of the quality of the comedy, which involves office clerks who become pirates. Yes, it is quite strange.

The issue a lot of people have with "The Meaning of Life" is that it is crass and rude and even sillier than the Python standard. It's shock humor, but for the majority of the sections of the film work so well and are so clever even in their lack of class that I would not hesitate to put "The Meaning of Life" on the same level as "Life of Brian", though it's not as good as "Monty Python & The Holy Grail". That's not to say this isn't 'Python-esque', because it's very much so, they're just completely liberated by the medium of film to say and do whatever they please. Indeed, there's something in here to offend nearly anyone, but there's also a fair bit in here to please everyone, even a wonderful scene in which Gilliam's 'supporting feature' "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" suddenly intrudes on the events of the film.

"The Meaning of Life" is constructed as a series of skits, and though many have suggested that it is hence not as much of a narrative movie as their previous two efforts. I tend to disagree with this viewpoint. Yes, this film is a series of skits, but they are all elaborately set up within an overarching 'commentary' on the general theme of the movie, the title. There is one section of the film which is both entirely unnecessary and honestly quite bad is 'The Autumn Years', an unfunny and vile piece centered around Terry Jones in a fat-suit repeatedly vomiting and eventually exploding. Basically all of the rest of the film is very, very funny, and even the jokes which fall flat within scenes like "Live Organ Transplants" and "Death" don't go terribly wrong because the overall quality of the scenes and sections are so high and the concepts behind them very funny. Gilliam's animations work excellently within the film and this would sadly be the last time we saw a distinctive Gilliam animation within a major film.

"The Meaning of Life" is great comedy. It's crass and rude and goes for cheap humor often, but it's mostly handled with a great deal of wit and intelligence that elevates even the section involving the world's most pornographic sex education class to a high level. Perhaps in retrospect this film's flaws are more obvious than those "Life of Brian" suffers from, but both are ultimately on the same level.

9/10


22 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 205 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed