Quick Hit: Truly hilarious comedy that is both intelligent and full of slap stick.
First, allow me to open with a whole-hearted thank you. First out to our very trusted reader, Nubs, who took the time to send in a request for this film. Second, I’d like to extend that thank you to Shannon for daring to watch (I’m assuming she did and didn’t write a post about not watching it) this absolute comedic gem. And without further ado, here’s a review of the second best Monty Python film.
And yes, Life of Brian is still the best of the bunch. But I'm not reviewing that. Or am I? You decide, if you answer me, these questions three.
In what may be some of the best credits in history, we’re instantly reminded of the joke-a-minute style of Flying Circus, but also in store for actual laughter. Whereas now many movies like National Lampoon and others will throw as many jokes as they can in the hopes that some of them are funny, Grail came from a time when the creators of the jokes took the time to craft each and every one of them to be funny. Some of this humor is self-deprecating – like trusty servant Patsy remarking “it’s only a model” and the constant references to budgetary limitations throughout the film. But despite the fact that it’s cutting humor, it’s viciously intelligent, showing no problems with puns, word play, and all together knowledge of the Arthurian legend.
This is a very particular brand of humor, one that not everyone can subscribe fully to. I understand that – watching a killer rabbit fly around attacking necks can be an acquired taste – but there’s a lot here for everyone. There’s some really good Python songs (I for one consider “Great Sir Robin” as one of the greats) here, and sometimes different cast members play up to eight or nine people. It’s that diversity that truly makes the comedic bits worth watching – but be careful, don’t get burned as a witch.
Another aspect of the movie which I don’t think gets enough credit is Terry Gilliam’s illustrations. Considering some of these actually move the plot forward instead of just serving as transitions, that’s quite an accomplishment – having hand drawn animation carry a plot forward in a comedic powerhouse movie, and still managing to be funny is tough. But alas, at the death of the animator, the Python gang gets away once again. These, clashed with some really good soundtrack music that often would be at home in other Arthurian biopics (though maybe not King Arthur: Legend of the Sword), give a clear indication that the cast loves and appreciates these movies just as much as we do – they’re just much better at parodies.
In the end, I’m going to give Holy Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrail a “B”
ok a “B+”
ok maybe an A-
Ok, ok, an “A”. Until next time,
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"