January 21st: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Release Date: 1975
Director: Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones
Why I picked this: It’s a comedy classic

Absurd, self-aware, and witty, this is everything you would expect from a movie with the Monty Python label. This comedic take on the legends involving King Arthur, played by the late Graham Chapman, and the Knights of the Round Table follows their quest to find the Holy Grail. It is very episodic nature, which makes sense considering that the Monty Python group has a focus on sketch comedy. Not a lot makes sense in this movie, which of course adds to the humor, but at least it is consistant. The knights always pretend to ride horses and are always accompanied with galloping noises made from coconuts, anachronisms and modern day elements purposely pop up everywhere, animated segments are used as transitions and even find themselves within the movie’s events, and even the opening credits are absurd. Being used to the Monty Python brand of humor, I found this movies very easy to get into. Not every “skit” is memorable, but they all work, and produce plenty of laughs. While most of the movie is utterly pointless in context of the plot, it really doesn’t matter due to the entertainment value. The writing is clever and sometimes even satirical, and the Monty Python players are great as they always are. Chapman’s King Arthur usually plays the role of the straight man in these ridiculous situations, working as a vehicle for the audience in this insane pseudo-historical/fantastical world. Some of my favorite bits of dialogue have the characters themselves pointing out the ridiculousness of these situations. But while the ending fits in with the spirit of the rest of the movie, I feel that they simply didn’t know how to end it and came up with an abrupt and contrived ending. I laughed at the ridiculousness of it, but it could have been smarter. Although it is primarily a comedy, the sets, costumes, and overall visual atmosphere get the audience in the mood of the period the movie is portraying, making the random modern elements more funny as they pop up.

Absurd and non-sensical, the Monty Python group’s adventure is hilarious, memorable, and clever.

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