MONTY PYTHON'S THE MEANING OF LIFE

(1983)
With Monty Python (John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam)
Directed by Terry Jones

Reviewed by JB

    Little more than an excuse to string together many wild, surrealistic comedy sketches, THE MEANING OF LIFE is nevertheless Monty Python's most rewarding feature film.  Separated into sections such as Birth, Sex, Fighting Each Other and Death, the film presents several of the comedy troupe's most memorably outrageous sketches.  In one, John Cleese teaches sex education by actually having sex with his wife in front of a classroom of bored students who would much rather be out playing soccer.  In another, an entire town performs a beautiful production number entitled "Every Sperm is Sacred", which includes the classic verse  "Every sperm is sacred / Every sperm is great / if a sperm is wasted / God gets quite irate."

Get the bucket!     In perhaps the most visually memorable sketch of the film, waiter John Cleese keeps feeding grossly overweight restaurant patron Mr. Creosote, who is prone to projectile vomiting, until the inevitable explosion.  There are also sketches on miracle of birth (featuring The Machine That Goes 'Ping!', which no hospital should be without), Live Organ Doning, Christmas in Heaven and a Monty Python prayer that begins "Oh, God, You are so big.  Gosh, we are all really impressed....".

     As can be gleaned from the above description, there is plenty in this film that can offend and even gross out audiences, and even today, parts of it are difficult to sit through (Live Organ Doning!).  However, the distinctly surrealistic point of view and and slavish devotion to intelligent, witty dialogue separates it from modern day gross out comedies.  Some sketches go on too long, and like other Python films, this one runs out of steam before it is over.  Much as Laurel and Hardy did their best work in two-reelers, Monty Python did theirs in half-hour television shows.  But as the last real major collaborative effort by the original Python gang, THE MEANING OF LIFE stands as one of their major contributions to comedy.  4- JB

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