$2.50 Reviews: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

$2.50 Reviews:

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a 1975 comedy co-directed by Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam. Starring Graham Chapman and John Cleese, the film focuses on parodying King Arthur's quest to find the Holy Grail. After being told by God to find this Grail, Arthur and his knights of the round table head out across the land in search of it. Broken up intermittently by present day scenes, the film is primarily set in the middle ages. It attempts to be a straight-faced spoof of Arthur's quest, but ultimately ends up being no more than a sequence of skits that are connected only by a thin story.

'I am French. I will taunt you!'

That's not to say that the film doesn't end up being funny, as for the most part it still is. It's just that there isn't all that much to it. There are some funny scenes, but they don't really have all that much connection to one another. They're there just for to be funny, meaning they won't be memorable later on. This basically makes the film something you'll laugh at in the moment, but forget about soon afterwards.

The film opens off with likely the best credits sequence I have ever seen. Below the actual credits are captions, almost entirely unrelated to the actual credits. Shortly after these begin, the people making the credits were "fired", and replaced with others. These new credits are also quite silly, leading to more "firings". This opening sequence really gets the audience prepared for what laughs are to ensue for the rest of the film. Sadly, the film never quite lives up to the opening. The rest is still funny, but the laughs become fewer and farther between as it progresses, especially when the film reaches its finale.

Speaking of the ending of the film, it serves as the film's low-point. It isn't a traditional ending in any sense of the imagination, and it seems like something that was thrown together at the last-minute. I speculate that the Python group simply ran out of money, and ended up doing whatever they could to wrap up their film. The ending still does fit with the style of film that this is, but it leaves a sense of disappointment after seeing it.

The things that were not disappointing were a few select skits that filled me with a great sense of joy. The most memorable portion of the film, for me at least, was a killer rabbit. I'll try not to give much away about it, due to not wanting to destroy part of the experience, but suffice to say this rabbit is the best part of the film. Absolutely, without a doubt, the most memorable, funny and exciting part of the film is minute or so that the little bunny rabbit is on the screen.

It's time to begin the saying 'D'awww'

The film attempts to do almost everything different from what would be normally expected. The rabbit being far deadlier than expected is just one example of this. Peasants seem well-educated, characters you'd expect to be serious never are, characters who are supposed to be dead aren't, and some are even invincible. Completely inverting every typical cliche is something that the film does very well. These are the times when the film becomes the most fun. The times when it suffers, is when it tries to be something else.

When Monty Python and the Holy Grail attempts to have quotable one-liners, or incredibly long discussions, it actually becomes fairly boring. It's creates an interesting contrast, where something incredibly funny happened not five minutes ago, while the scene you are currently watching is making you wonder how much time is left in the film. Thankfully, these scenes don't occur that often, but given the overall hilarity of the rest of the film, they stand out far more than you would like them to.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is an interesting film, to say the least. Filmed with a very small budget, it manages to be really funny for the majority of its screen time. This budget did seem to hinder the film's ending though, which is a shame, as it really would have been nice to have a real conclusion to Arthur's story. The laughs it does give are fairly funny, but not really all that memorable. There are a few that I likely will remember for a while, but most of the film doesn't stick with you. There are some dialogues that go on for too long, and it's in these moments where the film does get boring. They don't happen all that often though, and the film generally gets back to having a lot of fun fairly quickly.

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I'd disagree with the lines not being memorable. Many are said on a daily basis by people I know.

Personally, I think it was quite a good movie, but to each his own.

Aw, you didn't do your troll experiment.

I think you kinda summed up the film for me too. It does feel very hit and miss at times. The stuff that hits and sticks is generally really funny, but the stuff that misses does so badly. A lot of the stuff I enjoyed was the more throwaway gags such as 'And then the animator died of a fatal heart attack!' The more elaborate scenes I didn't like for some reason, with the exception of the bunny. That thing is just awesome and I want one.

As for the review, I didn't actually see any errors this time around, so very nice work overall. :)

EDIT: God damn it someone beat me to the first post!

I still recall many great scenes from the film, so I would say they are quite memorable. Sure, it is unconnected at times but this is a film that isn't intended to be taken seriously.

I love the movie but I do agree that the ending could have been done much better. At least they set it up though, with the whole detective following the random murder thing.

And yes, the bunny is the best part of the film. Tim the Enchanter, Sir Robins bards and of course:

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Man, I love British humor.

Even though I disagree with the lack of memorable lines bit, I thought the review was well done :)

JRCB:
I'd disagree with the lines not being memorable. Many are said on a daily basis by people I know.

This. People quote it all the time.

Huh, this is one of my favourite films. Full of one-liners, and humor. I actually thought the bunny scene wasn't all that funny. >.> But I suppose not everyone likes the same stuff. I think one of my favourite scenes was the fight between Arthur and the knight.

'Tis but a flesh wound!

Still, well organized review, straight to the point, and *ahem* solid. ^^

Actually one of the best movies I have seen. I still quote lines from it with friends and one of my teacher's used to quote it daily. I've watched it quite a bit as well. I don't seem to understand what isn't memorable about it? Also, it's monty python. There isn't much of a story to it. Ever. Life of Brian, Holy Grail, Meaning of Life. There wasn't anything but jokes in them. Good ole british humor I suppose. Also you have to watch the movie more than once to notice inside jokes such as

FargoDog:
Aw, you didn't do your troll experiment.

I decided against it. Sorry for getting your hopes up.

As for the review, I didn't actually see any errors this time around, so very nice work overall. :)

Excellent!

Aww I thought you'd really like it
Sorry Matt =\

"This basically makes the film something you'll laugh at in the moment, but forget about soon afterwards."

Seriously? It's quoted an awful lot for a "forgettable" film.

Anyway, John Cleese storming the castle has me in fits every time, as does Tim the Enchanter. It's consistently very funny, although it's not Life of Brian.

Pretty good review overall. I still watch this movie every now and then for a laugh. As has been said already, though:

The laughs it does give are fairly funny, but not really all that memorable.

You must not have encountered many people that have seen this film. People quote this film All.The.Time. It actually gets annoying sometimes when people just won't shut the hell up and keep quoting lines from it.

While I disagree with the "not memorablepart", seeing how I and several of my friends quote it on several occasions, I do agree with the rest of the reveiw. Monty Python isn't really the best way to go for a deep story (hell, not even for a GOOD story), but if you want a few good laughs, there's not much better.

Favorite scene: The Black Knight.

While its not in my "best movie evar" category, it is in the top 10. Simply because it refuses to take itself seriously even derailing itself a few times before having various actors scream "Get on with it!" and also breaking the 4th wall.
Favorite Scene: Lancelot rescuing Galahad from Castle Anthrax.

Sir Lancelot: We were in the nick of time. You were in great peril.
Sir Galahad: I don't think I was.
Sir Lancelot: Yes, you were. You were in terrible peril.
Sir Galahad: Look, let me go back in there and face the peril.
Sir Lancelot: No, it's too perilous.
Sir Galahad: Look, it's my duty as a knight to sample as much peril as I can.
Sir Lancelot: No, we've got to find the Holy Grail. Come on.
Sir Galahad: Oh, let me have just a little bit of peril?
Sir Lancelot: No. It's unhealthy.
Sir Galahad: I bet you're gay.
Sir Lancelot: Am not.

Redlin5:
I love the movie but I do agree that the ending could have been done much better. At least they set it up though, with the whole detective following the random murder thing.

I'm guessing that was all filmed last minute, again, to cover up for the lack of budget.

Marter:

Redlin5:
I love the movie but I do agree that the ending could have been done much better. At least they set it up though, with the whole detective following the random murder thing.

I'm guessing that was all filmed last minute, again, to cover up for the lack of budget.

Maybe. Maybe not. If anything it was sticking with their idea of comedy. Most of their sketches don't have punchlines or real endings, they just stop suddenly or end up in complete mess. The movie just ending kinda feels natural considering it was made by them. Mel Brooks was also a fan of doing that sort of stuff.

Also, Terry Gilliam(was it him?) said he loved watching the people in the movies, wondering if the movie was over or not and leaving with a feeling of "What the hell?".

I will have to disagree with your opinion on the memorability of the film. It is, after all, one of the most frequently quoted films of all time.

Edit: I do believe the proper response to such a review would be to say "Ni" to you... :P

Edit again: I agree that the ending is the worst part of the film though. I never really found it all that funny. Of course it wasn't until later years that I understood that the police officer taking away Lancelot's shield, calling it an "offensive weapon" was a satire on British weapon policies.

I've read some of original Arthur stories, and I think you'll be surprised to know that they are just as loosely connected to each other as the Holy Grail movie episodes are. So, really, Monty Python did an fine job of spoofing Arthur, even to the structure of the stories.

Like so many others, I do take exception to your assertion that this is an easily-forgettable film. My favourite part has to be the Knights of Ni, but I know everyone that has seen it can quote at least one line. That, for me, means exceptional comedic writing.

I think the secret to this film (and what makes it so hard to review in a conventional style) is that it breaks so many of the rules. From breaking the fourth wall, to unrelated subtitles, to having no discernable beginning, climax and end, this film somehow works although breaking so many conventional rules of filmmaking.

Please keep reviewing, I enjoy your style of writing and your takes on your now very wide range of films :)

As some others here-although I haven't even watched the movie yet-I doubt such a beloved and quoted movie could be considered 'forgettable'.

Other than that the review really makes me wish I could get back to finding certain classics I missed... >_>

JRCB:
I'd disagree with the lines not being memorable. Many are said on a daily basis by people I know.

I think we know quite a few of the same people.

Another decent review, and I agree with your thoughts on the ending. It's funny in its abruptness but in retrospect, it's kind of a let-down. It fails to take away from the humor of the rest of the film, however.

Well, given the overwhelming amount of responses, more or less saying the same thing, I think it's time for another Marter's $0.02.

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Well, to begin with, I'm very glad all of you at least read the review or at least enough of it for you to get a general opinion of what I felt about it. I didn't hate it by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it's one of the better comedy movies I've seen.

The main problem I had with it, (and incidentally the main problem you had with the review), was the fact that I did not actually find it all that memorable. I stated that it was funny in the moment, but later on it won't be something to really remember. Now that it's been an entire day, I'm actually fairly sure what I said was true. Apart from a couple moments mentioned in these comments, or what I do personally remember, (the credits and the bunny), the rest of the movie is basically gone from my mind.

Something else that is also true; I don't remember any lines that were not reiterated in this thread. The two scenes I do remember fairly well, I don't remember a single line of dialogue from them. Granted, the credits don't really have dialogue, but one would hope I would still remember more that "It was funny", and "Moose/Llama".

This, however, isn't the case. Now, what do I remember most about the killer rabbit scene? Well, I remember there being a killer rabbit, and I remember the fact that the rabbit, when attacking the knights, looked really fake. I also remember how a hand grenade was thrown to kill it. That's it. No 'quotable' one-liner pops into my head.

Now, why is this? Seems like it's time to explain myself even further. So, here is why I don't believe Monty Python and the Holy Grail is all that memorable a film.

Reason #1: The events of the film are only vaguely related to each other

It doesn't really matter to me if this was actually the most accurate representation of King Arthur's quest for the grail or not. The thing is, the story was weak as could be. Without some sort of continuity, it's hard to put things in proper context. We can go from a knight having his limbs chopped off to, well; I don't actually remember what comes next. That's kind of my point. Putting things in context makes them easier to remember. Keeping track of the sequence of events that occur makes them more memorable.

This is why a film like Snow Angels, another film I've only seen once, and certainly isn't a comedy, is far more memorable than this. It had a coherent sequence of events. Save for a couple select skits, the majority of this movie could be rearranged in more or less any way and still is just as funny. That doesn't allow for all that much to be remember after watching it though.

Reason #2: Who cares about these guys?

If something funny happens to people you care about, you are more likely to remember it. This can't occur with any of the Holy Grail characters, because by the end, you don't care about any of them. Since the story is basically just a mash up of medieval movie cliches, parodied just for fun, character development more or less took a back seat. The very back seat, in fact. Maybe they didn't even make it into the vehicle, because I don't recall any actually happening.

That's too bad, because if at least one of the characters were one that I grew to care about, maybe I would have remember something that happened to them. Maybe, if I could actually relate to a character, I would care when he has a cow land on him. Maybe, if he had real motivation, it would have mattered when he went on a tear of an entire castle, only to find out that the 'princess' he was rescuing was actually a 'prince'.

Now, I don't really want to single out the main motivation of the film, as if I was told by God to do something, I'd be pretty motivated to do what I was told. However, I will attack the secondary motivations. The majority of the things that Arthur, (and the rest of the characters), do, is just random insanity. Like I said earlier, this works well for keeping the mood light in the moment, but it doesn't leave a real impression in your mind.

Reason #3: You must have never heard people quote it. They do it all the time!

This is actually true, as I haven't heard anyone quote this film. Or, at least I didn't think I had. Maybe everyone I know has actually been quoting it non-stop for the past 17 years of my life. That's possible, right? There were just so many different lines that would all fit properly into daily conversation, that almost everything they say is a Holy Grail reference.

But, now that I've seen the movie, you would think that I would now 'get' those reference, right? It should now all make sense, why everyone was choking up whenever someone else said something that wasn't all that funny out of context. I should now understand why I was always sitting there not getting anything people were saying.

Of course that isn't the case. But, I do know people who have seen, and really enjoyed this film. Nobody I know quotes it, and if they do, it was right after we watched part of it in class. The film just doesn't seem to resonate all that deeply in the heads of the people I know.

I don't know, does this mean I associate myself with the wrong people? It's possible, I guess, but I don't think that just because they don't quote a movie that I don't remember all that well to begin with is a good enough reason to cut ties with them. I'm not even sure how this is a real argument. Sure, there will be some people who quote different movies all the time. People often time quote Family Guy non-stop. Does that mean it is now the most memorable show on TV?

Reason #4: I have a bad memory

Well, you've got me here. I do have a poor memory. I don't remember all that much of day to day life. One of the reasons I actually write these reviews is so that I will remember what I thought about a movie, instead of a vague "Uh, I kind of liked it, I think".

However, movies generally don't leave me that quickly right after watching them. It's not usually hard for me to at least remember the sequence of events in the plot. In Holy Grail, I can't even get that. The fact that you could move the events around, and still make the movie just as funny, means that the plot doesn't really matter. I'll admit, that does make it hard on me personally, but I don't feel that makes the film somehow untouchable.

With all the other films I've seen, I could at least make sense of what had happened a few days later. I couldn't remember Holy Grail's plot to save my life. It felt like it was just used as an excuse to do some off-beat things, and poke fun at the medieval film genre. That's about all that the plot was there for. Now, I like it when films actually have a plot. I like it when their plot matters. In this film, it doesn't. Not in the least.

Reason #5: I have no sense of humour

Ah, another accusation I have fielded before, and like the one directed at my memory, it has some merit. I don't really laugh at all that much, at least, not when I'm alone. The positive energy of a crowd can sometimes make a movie feel funnier than it actually is. Even sitting beside a close friend could do that.

The thing is, I don't watch DVDs with anyone. I watch them alone, so they have to make me laugh on their own. A film like Benny & Joon didn't even manage to make me laugh in the moment. This movie actually did. There were a few moments when I was really enjoying myself throughout.

So, that doesn't really mean I don't have a good sense of humour, as I did find this film funny. It had its moments; it's just that they didn't stay with me afterwards. Yes, ultimately I enjoyed the movie, but that doesn't change the fact that it didn't stay with me. Everyone is different though. If you managed to remember every little nuance of the film, well then, I applaud you. As for me, it's time to move on, and continue remembering how badly I want a killer bunny rabbit.

Marter:

That's an extremely well written explanation, which is quite appreciated and informative.

Although I found the movie to be one of my favourites, full of awesome one-liners, I can understand you feeling otherwise. Simply because something is popular, or well-received, doesn't mean everyone is going to have the same experience or opinion regarding it.

I must say, I am impressed. Not only with your reasons behind your opinions, but your explanations, and how you reacted to so many opposing opinions. This is what I like to see.

zombiesinc:
That's an extremely well written explanation, which is quite appreciated and informative.

Although I found the movie to be one of my favourites, full of awesome one-liners, I can understand you feeling otherwise. Simply because something is popular, or well-received, doesn't mean everyone is going to have the same experience or opinion regarding it.

I must say, I am impressed. Not only with your reasons behind your opinions, but your explanations, and how you reacted to so many opposing opinions. This is what I like to see.

I'm glad to see someone read that. =D

Thank you. I didn't actually think anyone would, and I'm glad it didn't come off as angry/ranty. (As it could have, as I typed up 1400+ words in ~30 minutes, without proofreading. >_>)

I'm glad I was able to explain myself better! (And use that image, which I've only gotten to use once before.)

For you to publicly state that you don't like this movie takes some guts.

For you to be able to articulate why you don't with a far superior explanation than "I don't like it," is commendable.

One thing I want to clarify though, is that the weak ending is something Monty Python was never afraid of in their TV skits. They almost never had a punchline; it just wasn't their style.

To be honest, I almost never remember how a Python skit ends. But for me, there was always something going on that had me laughing like tit. It's comedy of the absurd, and I'd be worried if it was for everyone.

So when they got the money for movies, all they really knew how to do was tenuously transition from one skit to the next. For me, that's fine. I love the show, and I love the movies. But it's not a taste for everyone.

Bravo on the review.

Neofishie:
For you to publicly state that you don't like this movie takes some guts.

For you to be able to articulate why you don't with a far superior explanation than "I don't like it," is commendable.

Bravo on the review.

Why, thank you. :)

I did actually like the movie though. It wasn't a bad movie by any means, and like I said, it was funny in the moment. It just wasn't long-lasting for me.

All right, we'll call it a draw.

Sorry mate, I can sort of understand your reasoning, but the review itself just doesn't stand. This film is considered a comedy classic, and it's one of the most quoted and referenced comedies of all time.

 

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