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  And Now For Something Completely Different No One Likes a Good Laugh More Than I Do
Year: 1971
Director: Ian MacNaughton
Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Carol Cleveland, Connie Booth
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: This is a public information film entitled How Not To Be Seen which will detail the methods to be implemented in not being seen. Here is a picture of a forest, and hidden within it is a member of the public, who will be asked to stand up. This is his chief mistake, as the minute he reveals himself he is then seen, and subsequently shot dead. A few more people make this mistake until one canny hider does not stand up, but has chosen such an obvious hiding place that he is easily blown up, as are a number of other volunteers, and those who have not volunteered at all and... now for something completely different.

This was a compilation of sketches taken from the groundbreaking British television show Monty Python's Flying Circus, written and performed by the cast who were soon to become some of the most renowned in comedy. Well, until grumblers started to complain they weren't funny anymore, as if a drop off in quality took away from their achievements which were of quite some precipitous height anyway. The sketches were selected from the team's first and second series, and while some years down the line when they revisited their ideas here they could be going through the motions somewhat, at least here the material was fresh in their minds.

Indeed, some of the sketches had not been transmitted on the small screen at the time they filmed them for this, their debut movie - although they had been involved in a smaller scale in film before, just not all together in one place. By now, there are fans who will be able to recite the lines along with the cast, with the most familiar sequences ranging from the Hell's Grannies where O.A.P.s roam the streets making trouble for law abiding citizens, Upper Class Twit of the Year, which takes a group of Hooray Henries and pits them against each other in a sort of Olympic event of stupidity, and a certain sketch about a dead parrot which in spite of its repetition still manages to amuse.

Remember in the seventies when all those comedy sketch films came out? The best one was probably The Kentucky Fried Movie, and Tunnelvision and The Groove Tube were among the others - even Luis Buñuel made one (or was it two?). Monty Python's effort was one of the originals, and certainly set the ball rolling, showcasing some of their best sketches about people annoying each other in ridiculous ways. It's a hostile universe out there, and in here for that matter, these sketches tell us; not only are there those who would react to situations in an absurd fashion, it would seem that there are no sane people left. Take a seemingly sensible character, the straight man in a set up, and they will probably have revealed themselves to be prey to some eccentricity too if you stay with them long enough.

Some of the best concepts they ever had are there: the camp soldiers, the World's Deadliest Joke (possibly the most splendid idea here, and one which translates well to the big screen) and the Killer Cars (Terry Gilliam's animations were as inspired as ever and are the film's highlight). Sadly, there's no place for the Ministry of Silly Walks, the Bishop or "It's the Mind", but you can't have everything. This is a fine record of the team's TV work, although it betrays its small screen origins pretty frequently with many of the spoofs targetting the kind of programmes that were prevalent on the BBC at the time, after all, the Pythons made their name not by subverting cinema but television. As with the originals, each gag leads into another to create a string of nonsense, and it's very pleasing to see such intelligence channeled into such ludicrousness, but wasn't that usually the way with Monty Python? If you always wanted to be a lumberjack, then this is the film for you.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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