MONTY PYTHON'S MEANING OF LIFE SPECIAL EDITION: DVD
And now for something completely different: a film for which there is no clear synopsis. The Python gang return to the sketch format of their original TV shows with a series of loosely connected episodes to do with birth, education, sex, food and death.
Review by Keith Lofthouse:
In their feature film swansong, Monty Python’s gang had the last laugh at a mad, mad, mad, mad world when this loose-limbed, lackadaisical hodgepodge won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. In his acceptance speech, director Terry Jones thanked the judges and told them “your money’s behind the washbasin,” but his collaborator John Cleese was less cryptic, describing the film as a “cheap, last-minute rag-bag of unconnected sketches”…an observation that is confirmed by most of the Python members in the “Making Of” featurette.
Unsuspecting audiences scratched their heads in perplexed disbelief when an elaborate and unfunny prologue depicted elderly clerks at a British financial institution turning on their cruel bosses like common pirates before launching the building onto the high seas to attack the evil U.S. corporation that oppressed them! It was nonsense of the first order and had nothing whatever to do with the variably inspired and outrageous insanity that followed….some of which (you will see on the Special Features disc) ended up as scrap! Long before we were given a taste of American Pie, this was the ultimate in bad taste: a film with something to offend everyone, including a brilliantly wicked assault on all things Catholic, which culminates in a rousing song and dance production number (Every Sperm Is Sacred) and an episode of spontaneous birth that still provides a jolt. The pièce de resistance is when Terry Jones as a disgustingly bloated man-monster named Creosote waddles into a ritzy restaurant and orders a gluttonous feast from grovelling waiter Cleese. He proceeds to stuff himself like a barnyard full of starving hogs until he squats, like a belching, wheezing and rumbling volcano about to erupt into the messiest tour de farce ever captured on film.
If this was intended as a satire on modern society and all its excessiveness, it sure ain’t subtle, but good, bad and ugly, Python is bent on putting all our moral, religious and emotional sensitivities to the test. Witness a graphic and gory episode on “live” organ transplants and teacher Cleese demonstrating sexual techniques with his wife while a gaggle of schoolboys gaze on aghast. Some of these gags are stretched beyond their limits and in typical Python fashion, work spasmodically, hilariously or, as in the case of the Grim Reaper and the gullible tourists, hardly at all. But, as always with Python, it’s worth risking the grotesque and the repellent for a taste of the exceptional
The generous bundle of Special Features includes enlightening retrospective interviews with the cast. The Snipped Bits include The Adventures Of Martin Luther sketch that was deleted from the original feature but is restored in the Director's Cut.
Published November 20, 2003
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MONTY PYTHON'S MEANING OF LIFE SPECIAL EDITION: DVD (PG)
(UK) - 1987
CAST: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin
DIRECTOR: Terry Jones
SCRIPT: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
PRESENTATION: Director’s Commentary; Director’s Cut; Lonely People soundtrack; Eric Idle Introduction; The Meaning of the Making of The Meaning of Life; Six Featurettes
SPECIAL FEATURES: 20th Anniversary Twin disc. Disc 1: Director's Cut, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam Commentary, Soundtrack For The Lonely. Disc 2: Snipped Bits and Featurettes (The School Of Life, Showbiz, Fish).
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
DVD RELEASE: November 19, 2003