on May 15, 2013
Their first movie outing after their TV program ended, which really gives us a glimpse into the minds of comedic geniuses like John Cleese, Micheal Palin, Eric Idle and company. I never get tired of watching these guys. Glad to have it on DVD, and at a good price, too!
on July 3, 2004
Who would have thought that, after nearly 30 years, the world's goofiest movie could be made even moreso? Not only is this DVD a comedy triumph (it would be simply if it were the DVD version of the classic film, in which a crew too broke to afford horses for King Arthur and his Knights changed history and college kids' banter forever by introducing coconuts as migrating props). Oh, no, this DVD is one that may become a standard for other DVDs. Just look at this list of extras above! To be sure, some of them are fluff. The "load of rubbish" selection is simply some receipts and a few odd notes. But most of it is stupendous.
The first disc contains the movie itself, along with some choices of how to watch it.... subtitles, commentary by directors Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam or by John Cleese & Eric Idle & Michael Palin. Then "for people who don't like the film", there's subtitles from Shakespeare's "Henry IV, Part II". Now, these do not faithfully follow Henry IV verse by verse, but they do come from the play, and it's hilarious how the phrases Shakespeare wrote do actually match up with the action on the screen.
Disc Two contains several mementoes: a film of John Cleese, Terry Jones, and "Grail" production manager John Young (who also played the hapless "Historian" towards the end of the film, and the "I'm not dead!" guy) paying a return visit to Castle Doune , in 2000. At first it's fun to hear them reminisce at the filming site, but since it's a very small spot with nothing but a wall and a bit of ground, they appear uncomfortable and that quickly gets old. More interesting is the home movie made by the two Terries when they looked for prospective film locations in the seventies. Their excitement is palpable.
A somewhat painful scene (except for the chance it gives us to watch Terry Jones in action as a director) is the BBC documentary made during filming. The interviewer seems more interested in trying to be funny himself than in the Pythons. But there are several great comic extras, including words to some songs, a coconut skit, two scenes dubbed in Japanese, and best of all, an animated feature of the "Camelot" scene and song done entirely in Lego...must be seen to be believed.
Finally, someone has made good use of the storage space on a DVD.
One of the saddest things about the movie industry is the reluctance to take risks. Studios know that if you release a comic book movie, it will make money. If you have success of any kind, don't be afraid to churn out several sequels. But the most disturbing thing of all is what passes for comedy in today's world.
Comedy is extremely subjective. What works for me might not work for others. If you examine the previous 61 titles in this 100 movies series, you won't find anything that is classified solely as a comedy. Films such as Amelie, As Good as It Gets and Midnight in Paris certainly have a great deal of comedic content, but they also contain dramatic elements.
It's not that I don't like to laugh or don't have a sense of humor, it's just unrealistic to me when a movie tries to tell a joke in every sentence. I'm too aware that I am being manipulated. Maybe it has something to do with my age, but I don't think it's funny watching people get hit in the genitals repeatedly or fail to make it to the bathroom in time. Innuendo or scatological humor ceased to make me laugh two or three decades ago. Physical humor can work, but it has to be executed well.
Why am I bothering to tell you this?
The six members of the Monty Python team make me laugh, despite using all of the techniques described above. I keep asking myself why that is, and I think it's a combination of things. The writing is superb and unpredictable. If I see a joke coming from a mile away, I'm not likely to find it funny. Even though most of Python's material is extremely silly, it has a kind of sophisticated brilliance.
Who else could reduce the Lady of the Lake myth to:
"Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government."
There's also the problem of acting ability and comic timing. Good writing can be ruined by poor execution. My favorite comedians can all act, and some of my favorite comedy comes from actors better known for dramatic roles. Something inside me rears up when people tell me they enjoyed Jack and Jill, Little Man or The Love Guru. If that's your kind of humor, you probably won't get much out of this review.
People like to laugh and that's why they love comedies. It's easy to watch and doesn't require much thought. There's no possibility that you'll look bad in front of your friends because you failed to understand the plot - if there is a plot. If you miss a joke, you can catch it again when they repeat it for the fourth or fifth time. Most dumb comedies run out of ideas in the first 45 minutes and struggle to approach the minimum expected running time that audiences will consider acceptable.
Here's a thought: if you spend your time and money watching terrible comedies, the studios think they should make more because it's obviously successful. It doesn't matter whether the audience liked the movie as long as they paid to be there. That money could have gone to serious filmmakers with something to say.
Are you still reading?
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is complete nonsense. There is hardly any plot. The jokes are frequent and silly. But, somehow, it all works.
The plot, such as it is, shows King Arthur trying to recruit knights for his Round Table at Camelot. When they finally get there, they decide it's a silly place. God gives them something to do instead, by charging them with the task of finding the Holy Grail. It's all just an excuse for a series of loosely related sketches. The plot is almost completely irrelevant.
The humor is bizarre and it's written with a strange kind of flawed logic. You'll discover how to tell whether someone is a witch or a king, why you should never allow Lancelot to attend weddings, and how deadly white rabbits can be. There are a few oddly-placed songs, but listen to the lyrics and you'll probably laugh. The budget was too small to pay for real horses, so they just used coconuts. Don't expect a proper resolution. The story just stops dead in its tracks.
I've loved the humor of Monty Python since I was a child. Every member is likeable and the six have been responsible for some of the most quotable sketches ever made. Whether it's dead parrots, cheese shops, lumberjacks, silly walks, Yorkshiremen or spam, it never gets old for me. John Cleese was also responsible for Fawlty Towers, which, despite only running for 12 episodes, is one of the best comedies ever made.
Monty Python isn't for everyone. It's a very particular kind of British humor that some just won't get at all. Like the movie itself, this review just stops dead in its tracks.
on April 22, 2013
After all these years, if you are a Monty Python fan you have seen this movie and do not need to be told to see it. Just classic Python.
Movie: 5 Stars. It is absurd, outrageous and hilarious! Writing is as sharp, or shaper, than the best comedies currently.
Video: I would rate the video a 4/5. I don't think we will ever see a release of this movie on par with 2001 (on blu-ray the picture is STUNNING!) in term so picture quality. I think the quality of film it was shot on back then just doesn't have the resolution/quality of a 2001 and this is probably the best we will get. However it is an improvement over the DVD.
If you are Monty fan, have a blu-ray player and don't have HOLY GRAIL on DVD, buy the blu-ray! If you have DVD I still recommend the blu-ray. You can get it for around $10-$12 on sale and for a classic that is a price worth paying.
Monty Python takes a good slice of epic and makes the heroic fantasy genre look pitiful with this outrageously funny outing.
The Knights of the Round Table all encounter one another and quest for the Holy Grail... alas, there was no money for horses so coconuts were used to simulate the sound of their footsteps. Alas, there was no money for epic battle scenes; funny and endless diatribes were filmed instead. Well, I could go on but needless to say the movie is funny, comedic and takes a nice stab at biblical epics, turning the genre on its head.
Audio and video is wonderful (I haven't seen the movie look so good in ages) so you're in Python land from the first second till the last drop (I'm pretty sure that's what I meant).
There is a second screen option, though I do not like the idea of not including everything on the disc (much like video games, it seems special features are bound to be available online one day... that is what I fear), but there is a nice mouthful of extras that reprise almost everything from the 2-disc DVD available a while back, and adds a few new featurettes.
Fans of Python rejoice, Holy Grail is not only a great movie, it is also beautifully restored.