Life's questions are 'answered' in a series of outrageous vignettes, beginning with a staid London insurance company which transforms before our eyes into a pirate ship. Then there's the National Health doctors who try to claim a healthy liver from a still-living donor. The world's most voracious glutton brings the art of vomiting to new heights before his spectacular demise.
THE MEANING OF THE LIFE is the last of the four theatrically released MONTY PYTHON movies, and most similar to AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT in that it goes back to the sketch rather than narrative format. It's a film I vividly remember as a kid - particularly the liver scene which makes a real impression when you're 7 years old - but watching it now it feels as fresh, cutting and witty as ever. Obviously with the nature of sketch compilations there are stronger ones and weaker ones, but the former tend to outweigh the latter here. Highlights include Terry Gilliam's incredible short film which is a work of towering imagination, the excellent song and dance routines, John Cleese's sex education class, the talking fish and of course Terry Jones (RIP) and the infamous Mr. Creosote sketch.
Reviewed by MartinHafer4 / 10
how could this movie have gone so WRONG?
I LOVED Monty Python and the Holy Grail, And Now for Something Completely Different AND I have seen every episode of the original series many times each (including the 2 German episodes), so I am entitled to have this somewhat negative opinion.
The problem is, this movie came out in the 80s long after the Python troop had all gone their separate ways and the spark that made them funny just was no longer there. This is a great example of not knowing when to quit while you are ahead. It was very sad watching this knowing what might have been.
First, let's talk about what I liked.
The best segment, by far, was the pre-movie about the elderly accountants. Many people I have talked to about this who also saw the movie said they never saw it. I don't know--maybe it wasn't shown when it was on TV or in the theater. I can't remember which, but apparently it was missing in some instances. That's crazy since it was SO GOOD! Also, though it not VERY funny, I mildly liked the Sperm Song and the dinner party interrupted by the Angel of Death.
And the not funny? I can't remember them all but there were many instances.
John Cleese taking off his clothes and having sex in front of a group of school boys to teach them sex ed was just not funny (big surprise), nor was the enormously obese man who literally ate until he exploded. I didn't so much mind because the latter skit was so gross (after all, I loved the CRUNCHY FROG skit from Live at the Hollywood Bowl--and it was far worse). The problem was it just wasn't funny.
My advice, see the other Python work (movies, TV, recordings)--it's all great. Well, Life of Brian isn't great, but it definitely has its moments and far surpasses this surprisingly bland film.
Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird7 / 10
Uneven but does have a lot to recommend it
The Meaning of Life is not for everyone. It is very tasteless, but it is often brilliant too. The film is uneven of course but it is very funny. It looks good, the direction is solid and the dialogue and gags are witty, unique and inspired. The acting and comic timing from Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Michael Palin and Terry Jones is impeccable too. And there are some genuinely funny moments such as the sequence in which a financial institution is boarded by swashbuckling pirates and Every Sperm is Sacred. However, some of the middle half borders on the dull side, while the war parody is overlong and the sequence in which a glutton explosively overeats is incredibly grotesque(one word of advice: don't watch this sequence while eating). Overall though, it is funny and clever. 7/10 Bethany Cox