Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)

Rating: C+

Dir: Terry Jones
Star: Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, John Cleese, Eric Idle

Python’s assault on religious sensibilities seems to have a reputation that exceeds it. While it certainly has its moments, and contains some brutally-accurate satire aimed at organized religion, it really isn’t actually that funny. There are long periods where I didn’t get more than an occasional smirk, and I expect rather better from the creators than extended sequences poking fun at those with speech impediments. I trust I need hardly bother outlining the plot: Brian (Chapman) has the misfortune to be born at the same time as, and next-door to, Jesus Christ.

When he grows up, is also mistaken as the Messiah, an unexpected result of a failed act of rebellion against the occupying Romans. Inevitably, Brian’s life ends the same way as Christ’s, in crucifixion, though this leads to the film ending in a cheerful sing-along, which is one of the most fabulous ways to end a film in cinematic history. The rest of the film, however… Not so much. There’s stuff which just doesn’t work at all, such as the sequence where Brian is abducted by a UFO and flies off into an outer-space battle. Quite what the Pythons were attempting to accomplish here escapes me: it’s not funny or interesting.

Similarly for the stuff about the People’s Front of Judea [or is it, the Judean People’s Front?]: while the first time it appears is amusing, it’s not a concept which gets funnier when recycled, especially without adding anything. Is is blasphemous? Who cares. I know I don’t. While it doesn’t have much to say about Christ, it does go right to the fundamentals of most religions and its opinion on faith in general isn’t pretty. But I’m generally opposed to preachiness of any flavour, and too often here, it felt like the moral was getting in the way of the humour.