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Monty Python's Life of Brian
1979 - R - 94 Mins.
Director: Terry Jones
Producer: John Goldstone
Written By: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin
Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Terry Jones
Review by: Bill King
   

You have a big nose... Oh that was so funny! What cutting-edge comedy!
I just don't get Monty Python's popularity. The British comedy troupe's films are regarded as masterpieces of comedy. I don't see why. I've enjoyed the sketch comedy of Benny Hill, and Mr. Bean's exploits are memorable, so British comedy isn't the issue. If Monty Python was comprised of Americans, the French, Russians, Italians or Canadians, the result would still be the same.

The troupe introduces unfunny jokes and beats them to death. I didn't find it amusing, in the awful "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," when knights would endlessly pretend to gallop on horses while servants smacked two coconut halves together. In "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life," I didn't laugh when the fat guy puked all over the place for several minutes. There comes a time when we get the joke, and the movie should move on. Monty Python doesn't do that. Instead, we get hammered by unfunny dialogue and situations to the point of nausea. Strangely, I'm up against overwhelming odds; many people apparently love this sort of repetitive comedy. Fine. They can have Monty Python.

Imagine if someone told you a dozen variations of the old joke about the chicken crossing the road. That's what Monty Python does. Fortunately, "Monty Python's Life of Brian" didn't anger me as much as the holy grail movie did. The comedy is better, and a little more inspired, but that's not saying much. There are still massive sequences in this movie that couldn't make me chuckle. I liked the beginning, in which the three wise men visit the wrong shed, and give the gifts to Baby Brian, instead of Baby Jesus. They realize their error and go next door to the appropriate manger.

Brian (Graham Chapman) was born on the same day as Jesus. He wanders around Judea and people mistake him for the messiah. The "story" is pretty thin. Brian joins the People's Front of Judea, which opposes Roman rule. Meanwhile, the citizens mistake Brian for Jesus, and follow him around asking for signs. There are isolated scenes poking fun at stoning, crucifying, worshipping and suicide. I liked a scene towards the end, in which a suicide squad shows up to fight the Romans. What do the members do? They kill themselves. "That'll show 'em," one soldier gasps.

The laughs don't come that often, though. There's one absolutely inexplicable scene at around the halfway point, in which an alien ship kidnaps Brian, flies into space, gets blown up and Brian is deposited back on earth. Ridiculous! I also didn't like the fact that Pontius Pilate (Michael Palin) talks with a lisp, and everyone makes fun of him. This simply goes on far too long and way past the point of humor. Cleese and company are so desperate for you to understand the jokes that they'll drag them out over an unreasonably long time in hopes that you'll get it. The problem is that the jokes aren't funny in the first place. Early in the film, a man points out another man's big nose. Not funny, yet the scene evolves into a an extended scene centered around this guy's nose.

This movie was considered to be outrageously blasphemous in several countries. I wouldn't take it that far. Norway apparently banned it for a while, but I think for the wrong reasons. Norway should have made the case that "Life of Brian" was bad comedy, instead of blasphemous. Whatever the controversy, I say, stay away. Since I'm overruled as far as the quality of Monty Python's comedy is concerned, I guess nobody will take my advice. That's fine with me. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go watch a real comedy now.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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