A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 420 – Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Monty Python’s The Life of Brian – April 24th, 2011

Today seemed like the perfect day to watch the last of our Monty Python movies, what with that last one being a spoof on the story of Jesus and today being Easter. What can I say? We’re bad like that. But this did seem like a good match and so we saved it for today. The thing is, I have to admit, I was a little wiped out today and found myself nodding off in the middle of the movie. It’s just not my favorite Python film and wasn’t quite enough to hold my attention while I was exhausted.

Really, I feel like I’ve lost a bucket of geek points for admitting that there’s a Python movie I don’t love. It’s not that I don’t enjoy this one, honestly. It’s just not quite as engaging to me. Maybe it’s that, well, I don’t have the background to really appreciate the parody. Sure, I know the basics when it comes to Jesus and the story of his birth and death (and resurrection), but I wasn’t raised with it. The parody is funny, sure, and the writing is top-notch. But still. It just doesn’t grab me and it never has. Not in the way the other movies have.

It strikes me as a real pity that I can’t get into this movie. It really does have some fantastic classic moments and lines and the Python crew themselves have apparently stated that they felt like this was at the top of their game. It’s a sharp movie full of quick commentary not necessarily on Christianity or Judaism so much as on the world as it apparently existed and the circumstances. Brian was born in a manger a few doors down from Jesus and the movie follows his life, just as the title claims. He finds out he’s the son of a Roman soldier and joins up with the People’s Front of Judea (not the Judean People’s Front or the Popular Front of Judea – splitters!) because he hates the occupying Romans so very much. And thus begins his misadventures. After getting in trouble and escaping he unintentionally gains a number of devout followers who misinterpret everything he says as being terribly meaningful and eventually he ends up crucified.

It’s pretty snarky really, mostly about people in general and their willingness to follow. And I appreciate that. It’s both funny and painful to watch Brian tell his unwanted followers that he’s not the messiah only for them to take that as certain proof that he must be (since only the true messiah would be humble enough to not claim the role). There’s a lot of very pointed humor here, from the various rebellious factions who hold meetings to determine if they will go to rescue someone to the whole stoning scene with the man getting stoned singing ‘Jehova! Jehova!’ because how are you going to make it worse? And there’s just plain silly humor too, with the women wearing beards and the haggling and the Roman soldier correcting Brian’s Latin and making him write out the correct grammar one hundred times as graffiti. It’s a funny movie! It just loses me around the middle plot-wise.

I do appreciate that they were going with something linear here, like they did for Holy Grail. It’s a very different style from their sketch work, which I include Meaning of Life in. But it has elements of sketch comedy in it, with each scene in the linear plot acting as its own bit. Unfortunately, I happen to enjoy the sketch comedy a little more. I find it easier to move from piece to piece because if a particular bit doesn’t do it for me there’s something else coming along that might. There’s not as much shifting here. So when Brian falls off a tower and is suddenly picked up by aliens? It takes a while before the movie gets me back.

Fortunately, it is very funny in a lot of places and I do enjoy it. It might not move at the same pace as some other Python works but that’s just the way it goes. It is exceedingly clever and I have no doubt in my mind that people who know the story and time period being parodied better than I will find a lot more humor than I can. And I do enjoy the song at the end, even if after last night’s movie and Friday night’s movie I find the message to “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” to be a little more painfully satirical than I have in the past.

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April 24, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , ,

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