Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983)

Rating: B

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

The greatest Python film of all? How could it be otherwise, with Mr. Creosote, Every Sperm is Sacred, Live Organ Transplants, The Galaxy Song? Ah, but watch it, and realise how wildly uneven it is. Sure, there are perhaps the funniest moments in the Python filmography, but balancing that out is an awful lot of slack. Remember the Zulu War/Tiger sketch? Dinner Conversations? Thought not. It is perhaps the closest of their movies to the TV series (discounting And Now…, which basically was the TV series), being a series of loosely-connected skits, rather than a story line. And much like the show, one moment you’ll be holding your aching sides, the next you’ll be scratching your aching head.

The songs, however, are uniformly great – shame they never made a full musical, their talents in this area are unsurpassed (and obviously inspired South Park, almost as adept at mixing wildly inappropriate lyrics to whatever style they use). Otherwise, it’s at its best going for full-on offense, be that offending religious sensibilities, sexual prudery, or just good ol’ fashioned body fluids. The misses are plentiful, but the hits are just so damn memorable, they overpower the failures; before long, the latter fade, leaving you again convinced that this is indeed the greatest (Python) story ever told.