Directed by: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam
It wasn't that long ago that I wrote about this very film being re-issued and playing the Fine Arts. Yet while it's tempting just to revisit that earlier review, I was recently reminded that Monty Python is not, perhaps, to everyone's taste (a reader recently wrote and complained that he couldn't sit through the Pythons' Life of Brian, despite my apparent enthusiasm for the film).
Thus it seems worthwhile to note that my high regard for Monty Python and the Holy Grail is indeed that of one who is in tune with the particular brand of humor represented by the Python troupe. And that's not to mention the traditions of British humor from Spike Milligan and The Goon Show in the 1950s, and then on up through Richard Lester, the British Invasion films, and the esoterica of Vivian Stanshall and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in the '60s. (All of that crosses over into -- and is actually a part of -- Monty Python. In fact, you can play Six Degrees of Separation with everything I just named, spot your opponent four degrees, and still win.) So please bear in mind that it's a Pythonesque point of view that's calling Holy Grail the best of the group's films, and one of the few comedy classics of modern film.
If you like Monty Python, this is indeed as good as it gets. Holy Grail is a spot-on send-up of the Arthurian legends in strictly Python terms -- and an antidote that might well be needed after the abysmal-looking King Arthur opens this week. I will slightly crib myself in offering this observation from my original review: "No gag is too wild, no joke is too low, no idea is too outrageous -- and nearly all of it works. Unlike the flood of modern 'bad taste' comedies, Holy Grail takes genuine risks. It junks all concerns of plot development and constantly reminds the viewer that it's a movie. ('Camelot!' the noble knights enthuse upon seeing the castle in the distance, merely to have a servant point out, 'It's only a model,' whereupon we -- and they -- are treated to Neil Innes' 'Camelot' song as an intercut anachronistic Busby Berkeley production number that makes Arthur decide not to go there after all.)"
If that sort of thing appeals to you, then so will this movie.
-- reviewed by Ken Hanke
[The Walk-In Theatre series, presented by Orbit DVD and the merchants of West Asheville's Bledsoe Building, will screen Monty Python and the Holy Grail on Friday, July 9, 2004 in the parking lot behind Westville Pub. Show time will be at dark and admission is free -- but please limit attendance to human beings; leave pets at home (though exceptions may be made in the case of African swallows).]