This week, to celebrate 40 years of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, they’ve chosen the first Python movie 1971’s And Now For Something Completely Different.
Straight off, i should mention that, despite the fact it was released as such, it isn’t actually a movie. To capitalise on their popularity, they re-recorded 90 minutes of their sketches, put a title on it, and released it in theatres. As just a longer collection of their usual tv sketches, with no narrative of any kind weaved through it, it’s impossible to review it as a film.
There are three types of people. Big Python fans, who will obviously love it, those who hate Python, who will clearly just be left scratching their heads. The third group, which i belong to, like some sketches, but are completely baffled by others. If you also belong to this group, be warned – thirty-odd minutes of this hit-or-miss off the wall humour works, eighty-odd minutes is a feat of endurance.
The main problem here is that the big sketches, The Dead Parrott, The Vocational Guidance Councillor, The Funniest Joke in the World, are kept until the last half hour. This makes the preceding two thirds an exercise in endurance. Most of the misses come first, and by the time you reach the funniest skits, you’re feeling a little too jaded to appreciate them. With the only real difference a slightly higher budget, and slightly better film stock, newcomers to the comedy of John Cleese etc… would be better off with The Best of Monty Python on DVD, featuring all the best routines here, plus some others that were left out.
What And Now For Something Completely Different does is expose what has been the problem with the British film industry for a long time. Too many movies made off the back of Tv series, such as The Porridge Movie, Cannon and Ball’s The Boys in Blue and several Morcambe and Wise movies. And even films like Brassed Off, The Full Monty, and even Four Weddings, whilst not spun off of particular TV shows, are not much more than glorified extended TV episodes. Come on, The Full Monty could easily have been compressed into an episode of Auf Wiedersein Pet.
I would have much preferred iTunes had chosen Holy Grail, or even better The Life of Brian. I can’t deny, however, And Now For Something Completely Different is definitely Python at it’s purest, with it’s mix of irreverent, madcap humour, and Terry Gilliam’s bizarre and distinctive animated interludes. One for fans only, really. And big fans at that.
And Now For Something Completely Different is available to rent on iTunes at the discounted price until Midnight Monday 26th October, and is available on DVD now.