• Daniel Rae

Monty Python and the Holy Grail Review

'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', Monty Python, 1975

Monty Python's second feature film is truly a cultural enigma, sitting on the fringe of what we consider normal sketch comedy proven by its nationally-beloved iconic status. There is a triumphant British confidence that continues to seep through every corner of the film's weird and wacky world. Much like the rest of Monty Python's catalogue, it is clear that their one-of-a-kind absurdism comes from a place of friendship and genuine relationships, a parallel that I'm very much not hesitant to compare to today's internet meme culture. However, as honest as this style is, leading to some iconic moments that transcends the rulebook it invents for itself, the sheer absence of any rhyme or reason only gets it's story and, as a result, it's comedy, so far.

You realise very quickly that the amount of questions it asks of itself pales in comparison to just how little the writers cared about answering them. Any glimpses of structure it enables you to peer through, such as the formula of repetition and the comedy-sketch style of progression, gives its often mindless humour a translucent sense of wit that reaches out and begs to be viewed as funny and 'a part of the joke'. Sure, its overly-theatrical writing and deadpan wides does truly get you on the odd occasion, paired with actors who could have only come from the world of stage and a timeless sense of style that plays against it's colourful quirks, but the purposefully-pointless shell everything operates within ultimately limits the direction and its characters, who range from annoying to completely ridiculous. It tries so hard to make weird for the sake of being weird almost artful, a notion that in theory I can get behind, but in practice, leaves most of its gags feeling empty and stripped of any personality beyond the desperation for sophistication the screenplay hangs on. Even with your brain turned off, the sort of humour they use that writes itself removes any sort of consistency. The method behind the madness lies with the stop-go pacing, which takes away from the sense of honesty it sells you with how it uses its setting to pick apart its British archetypes.

It was almost as if 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' was made with the aim of making an obscure cult classic. Aside from the odd occasion when the level of absurdism goes beyond the framework the film establishes for itself, the absence of any earned development and cohesion between its comedy and its characters falls short of Monty Python's other fully-realised works such as 'The Life of Brian'.

2/5 Stars

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