Review: “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”

It may lack the better story of “Life of Brian” or the giant laugh out loud sequences of the sometimes great/sometimes misfiring “Meaning of Life” but overall “Holy Grail” stands up as the most consistently funny and cohesive Python film of all. Grail is one I haven’t looked at since high school till this release and its a welcome return. Holy Grail is a spoof of medieval movies, I don’t mean an unfunny and woefully written “Scary Movie” style spoof, I mean truly hilarious and inane comedy.

They don’t attack the conventions of the medieval movies but rather the seriousness of them – its completely silly and off the wall, yet is biting and clever at the same time – a very difficult combination to pull off. All the Pythons are at their best – Graham Chapman, Terry Jones (in and out of drag), John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam’s animations all combine to give us some truly great laughs.

At times a few gags don’t work or seem a little too self-confident, but for the most part they’re right on the money. This is a series of sketches wrapped around a decent plot, some you’ll forget but most you’ll be quoting from and laughing over for days, weeks and even months to come. Python humour takes it a little too far sometimes but that’s its charm – its not enough to have the knight’s of the round table at Camelot doing a singing/dancing chorus line, what help endears is the two second cut to the prisoner in chains in the dungeon clapping to the music, followed by what looks like a black cat being squashed underfoot.

There’s a great sequence where Sir Gallahad visits the Castle Anthrax filled with “eight score of blonds and brunettes aged 16 and a half to 19” who make underwear and bathe all day. Cleese once again steals may scenes – one as the Black Knight who refuses to give up, the other with the unforgettable line “I’m French, why do you think I have this out-rrrrageous accent you silly King”. Then there’s the irate God, the bridge crossing scene with the old wizard asking three questions, and who can forget the violent bunny rabbit or the Knights who say “Ni”. One of the best British movies ever.