Anthony's Film Review
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)
Monty Python steps into gross-out territory, but they're still funny...
The third Monty Python movie is my least favorite of the Python feature films, but it does not mean that I hated it. It still presents sketches that are united by a common theme. In this case, it's about life and its different stages. John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and Terry Gilliam show us a sample of life's absurdities from birth to death. You may find it funny, offensive, or both.
I'm going to focus first on the offensive content. To do so, let me present an analogy. Imagine a beach with the land representing clean, politically correct humor and the water representing crude, dirty humor. I like to think of Monty Python as a group who hang out in the shallow part of the water. A lot of their humor pokes fun at people and things that many say shouldn't be ridiculed. Sometimes, the Pythons swim out to deep water, but they always come right back towards the shallow depths.
In The Meaning of Life, there are instances where they swim in very deep water and stay there for a while. Two scenes are great examples of this. One involves live organ transplants, depicting blood constantly squirting upward from a man screaming in pain as two other men extract his organs. Another scene features John Cleese as a waiter and Terry Jones as Mr. Creosote, a disgusting, hideously obese man who constantly eats and vomits. Prior to this, there is one scene that seems to foreshadow the direction the Pythons take. It involves sex education, meaning a lecture about how to perform sexual intercourse, complete with a live demonstration.
Don't get me wrong. It's not the most offensive movie ever made, and there are still some funny moments. I liked the scene with two buildings functioning as pirate ships. There is also a scene where a man runs off a cliff and dies, which is funny once you see what is chasing him. And to balance the comedy, there is music. The two memorable musical numbers include "Every Sperm Is Sacred" poking fun at Catholics and the "Galaxy Song" that reminds us of our place in the universe.
If you're a Monty Python fan, you may or may not like it depending on whether you think the Pythons went too far. However, you might agree that the material is still Pythonesque. For me, some of it worked and some of it felt too weird to fully enjoy. It all adds up to an average comedy. At least Eric Idle's performance of the Galaxy Song is a nice touch. It reminds us to smile if life seems hard or tough.
For more information about Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
Monty Python in Film
Monty Python on Television