Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life
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More Trivia from Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life
Okay, truth time. Have you ever been doing something and then paused to wonder, "What is it that I'm doing here?"..."What is the meaning of life"?
Well, those brash Brits of Monty Python's Flying Circus take on this heady topic in their own "offend-everybody-pull-no-punches-and-take-no-prisoners" attitude.
Before we can get to the subject matter at hand, we are first treated to the tale of "The Crimson Permanent Assurance"...
This group of British bankers decide one day to become the ultimate Wall Street pirates (Yep, Monty Python was tackling money hunger while Oliver Stone was still writing "Scarface" and Schwarzenegger movies).
This group of hearty men take over all firms they come across until the filmmakers decide that the gag's gone on long enough and they sail off the edge of the planet. With that, the film actually begins and we see a group of fishes (the Python gang of course). Amidst the usual surreal talk, one brings up the issue of "The Meaning Of Life" and with that, we go to the opening credits, where we hear a song by Idle that teases us with the big questions:
"Why are we here? What's life all about? Is God really real? Or is there some doubt?".
The credits end and life begins in our first chapter, where a woman has a baby and she's tended to by a group of doctors who are keen on experiments. Cleese plays one of these doctors who is very fond of "The Machine That Goes 'PING!'"...these doctors get a kick out of tormenting a young mother. Yes, there's blood in this scene...it's the Pythons, what would you expect?
Moving on, our next sketch sees Michael Palin and Graham Chapman as men of countering religions who speak of their views on...um, Well, actually, Palin sings his views in a tribute to a rather delicate subject which cannot be discussed on a family-friendly website such as this. Still, Palin's song and Chapman's spoken rebuttal are hilarious.
From here, we move on to schooling, where boys learn of stuff they should learn as teens, young kids get brutally beaten in football matches and the entire system is under the rule of the Church (Palin as minister: "O Lord, Ooh, you are so big, so absolutely huge, Gosh, we are all impressed down here, I can tell you. Forgive us, O Lord, for our dreadful toadying, but you are just so super. Amen.")
We now move on to the lunacies of men in war, where a birthday party is held for an army official. Palin, Idle and the rest serve up gifts and cake amidst shrapnel and downed officers. We then move to Africa, where Cleese tries to explain why he's in a tiger costume. Gilliam appears out of a Zulu costume to announce that we've arrived at The Middle Of The Film.
In this bizzaro segment, an oddly-dressed Chapman and Jones recite odd verse while encouraging the audience to look for a fish, leading us back to the fishes from the film's beginning, who are in a tank at a fancy restaurant.
In this restaurant, Idle impersonates Noel Coward with a typically tasteless tune to entertain the patrons. In the film's most remembered scene, Jones plays the obese (and THAT'S an understatement) Mr. Creosote, who eats like a pig and pays for it when he chews and swallows a wafer-thin mint. That's right...He explodes, propelling vomit all over the restaurant. He's still alive, but we can see his fat-coated heart beating like a war drum. In the next segment, Idle plays a waiter who tells us his meaning of life, and when no one likes it, he has a hilariously crude denouement for his audience.
A different restaurant is seen with Palin, Idle and Cleese putting on American accents and talking amidst hula-dancing waitresses in an old-fashioned British dungeon (take my word for it, it's very funny).
Now we move on to "Live Organ Donation", with Palin as a man who has his intestines removed while still alive. As his wife Jones contemplates the lost life, Idle appears to sing "The Galaxy Song", a rather true song about how none of us really matter in the big scheme of things.
Gilliam gets his animated piece in with a short about leaves committing suicide, which leads into Chapman as a criminal who meets his death being chased by women off a cliff. Now we arrive at the end of life, with Cleese's Grim Reaper taking the lives of a dinner party. Now everyone from the movie is seen in Heaven. Buckle up, folks, because if the Pythons are right, Heaven may be a slightly more tacky version of Las Vegas, complete with Chapman as Tony Bennett singing of how it's always "Christmas In Heaven" ("It's Christmas In Heaven/There's great films on TV/'The Sound Of Music' twice an hour and 'Jaws' 1, 2 and 3".)
Palin appears to tell us the meaning of life...I won't spoil it for you, though, except to say it leads into a funny rant about the state of filmmaking circa 1983.
The film ends with a TV floating into space. Notice how it plays the opening credits of the series "Monty Python's Flying Circus". It's rather poignant in its own way...this is the last movie the Pythons made as a whole (Chapman would die of cancer in 1989 a day before the 20th anniversary of the group), and this could be seen as their way of coming full circle.
Well, what can I say? It's everything you would want from a "Monty Python" movie... Offensive, sacreligious, tasteless, and hilarious.
Thought by many to be the weakest of the Python movies, I thought it was a great piece of work myself. Good songs, good performances, brilliant lines, grandly defined surrealism... The last Python movie was very enjoyable.
Rest In Peace, Graham Chapman.
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