While "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" is a cult classic, the comedy group's second feature film, "Life of Brian" has some pretty good laughs in it, as well. Unfortunately, for me, a lot of the jokes fall short of funny for me.
The best parts of the film for me are the absurdity of the People's Front of Judea and the ridiculous depiction of the Romans. It's just not Monty Python's best work, and I've seen plenty of Flying Circus. The jokes weren't as spot-on as they well in "Holy Grail" and the humor in "Life of Brian" is a lot drier than their typical work, even for a fan of dry humor as myself.
I've only ever seen this film twice. Honestly, it's not nearly as entertaining as their other work. Truthfully, I’ve only seen bits and pieces of "Meaning of Life" and I understand that one is extremely weird. But Graham Chapman's Brian Cohen, John Cleese's many characters, and the rest of the Monty Python cast are top-notch with their acting, even if the script isn't as strong as many of their others.
I really do think Monty Python's abilities were just extremely stretched with a feature-film length script. It worked greatly on Holy Grail, but this one proved to not be as strong, though it had plenty of laughs and many chuckles throughout.
The strongest part of the film for me has to be the ending, the famous "Always Look On the Bright Side of Life" initiated by Eric Idle during the crucifixion scene at the end. While I do take issue with some of the lyrics, as my analytic mind loves to tangle with such things, it's a musical number up there with the Monty Python classics like the Lumberjack Song and every song from Holy Grail. It's an upbeat positive song that reminds people to always look on the Bright Side and frankly admits that Life is a turd when you really look at it, and "Life's a laugh and Death's a joke, it's true."
I think my biggest issue with the song is when he says you start with nothing and end with nothing, so what have you lost... nothing! As someone who believe each of us is born with huge amounts of potential, I take a little exception to that. But death is inevitable, and you can't live in fear of it, just accept it as an inescapable eventuality... that I can agree with. But all that nitpicking analysis aside, it's a great song and right up there with "Knight of the Round Table" from Holy Grail for me.
I'd only give this film a 7/10, which is awfully low for Monty Python, I understand, but I honestly feel like it's weak material for them. It pales so greatly in comparison to Holy Grail, and the only thing that saves it for me is the fact that it had a pretty good premise (don't just blindly follow people and make decisions for yourself) and it had the great ending, plus all of the tongue-in-cheek humor that we love Monty Python. But it's nowhere as quotable or laugh-out-loud hilarious as much of their other work.
I'm probably being brutal with it, but if I rated it any higher, it would be a film I'd want to view more often. Still, I love Monty Python, and for fans of the group, if you haven't seen it, it's well worth seeing for its high points.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
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