and the Holy Grail
- Rated PG
- Buy the BD
All photos © Sony Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
o review a film like “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” 30 years after the fact is not just impossible – it’s totally unnecessary. Already considered to be one of the funniest movies ever made, the British comedy troupe’s debut feature is not only their silliest work to date, but it’s also their most accessible. Many Python fanatics would probably cite “The Life of Brian” as their strongest work, or “The Meaning of Life” as the most scabrous, but there’s not a person in the world who has never heard of, let alone experienced, “Holy Grail” at least once in their life, and that’s gotta count for something.
Set in 934 AD, but very much reflective of 13th Century England, the film tactlessly parodies the classic tale of King Arthur (Graham Chapman) and his quest for the Holy Grail. Along with the aid of his lackey, Patsy (Terry Gilliam) – who follows the King around knocking two coconut halves together to emulate the clip-clop sound of a horse – Arthur rounds up a new order of knights for his round table that include the likes of Sir Bedevere (Terry Jones), Sir Lancelot the Brave (John Cleese), Sir Galahad (Michael Palin), and Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-As-Sir-Lancelot (Eric Idle). When the knights receive an order from God to track down the legendary artifact, however, they decide to go about the task individually, triggering subplots that feature each knight on his selfish quest for fame.
More quotable than a volume of Bartlett’s, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” has gone on to inspire reincarnations of some of the film’s greatest moments, as well as the award-winning Broadway musical, "Spamalot." How could you possibly forget such characters like The Black Knight (“I’m invincible!”), The Frenchman (“Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelled of elderberries!”), The Knights Who Say “Ni!” and The Killer Rabbit, or hilarious send-ups like The Trojan Bunny (great idea, bad execution), The Holy Hand Grenade ("Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy”) and the opening sequence about whether or not a swallow could carry a coconut? Comedy gold; every one of them. And that’s just scratching the surface.
The film does have a few drawbacks – namely a sluggish final act – but they’re few and far between when compared to the number of memorable gags that take place within the first hour. The musical numbers are also considerably weak (and would have been best left out completely), but they serve as a valuable benchmark for measuring the group's knack for writing catchy and funny tunes in their later movies. There also isn’t as much Gilliam-inspired animation as their earlier work would suggest, but it serves its purpose well as the link between the story’s changes in narration. And yet, while “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” is far from being perfect, it’s still one of the funniest, silliest and strangest movies you’ll ever see. Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time.
Single-Disc Blu-ray Review:
The comedy classic arrives on Blu-ray for the very first time with a handful of new extras including the Second Screen iPad app "The Holy Book of Days," lost animations with commentary by co-director Terry Gilliam, and never-before seen outtakes and extended scenes presented by co-director Terry Jones. The single-disc effort also boasts older bonus material from the Extraordinarily Deluxe Edition DVD, like audio commentaries with Gilliam and Jones and stars John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin, the location featurette "Quest for the Holy Grail Locations," a short documentary from BBC's visit to the set of the film, a LEGO version of "The Knights of the Round Table" and much more.