Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life [Blu-Ray] Terry Jones

Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life [Blu-Ray] Terry Jones
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There are few that would consider Monty Python's The Meaning of Life their best film, but there's more inspiration in Terry Gilliam's opening short, The Crimson Permanent Assurance, or even the film's opening credits, for that matter, than in the entire running time of most modern comedies. The group is typically modest and self-deprecating throughout the supplemental material, in suggesting how the film was rushed too quickly into production, with John Cleese especially adamant that while it contains some of the troupe's best material, it only helps prop up some of its lesser. There is some truth to Eric Idle's assertion that it lacked the necessary structure to rise above simply being a series of sketches, but it hardly matters when some of those sketches are as good as these. Aside from the aforementioned Gilliam short, in which a group of octogenarians, tired of suffering through office drudgery, take over their building and then launch it down the street as if it were a pirate ship, there's a host of memorable musical numbers. The best of these is "Every Sperm is Sacred," a buoyant ditty sung to, and then by, the many grubby children of a Roman Catholic father, who adheres to the religion's strict rules against birth control, though Idle's "The Galaxy Song" is another brilliant showcase of the gift for melody and wit that distinguished the group. The film was way ahead of its time in how it makes the gross-out comedies that would later become en-vogue for a while look positively tame by comparison. One sequence has Cleese and the late Graham Chapman removing the liver of a Rastafarian Jew organ donor (Gilliam) while he's still conscious and, in the most discussed and revolting scene, Terry Jones plays a grotesquely obese man dining at a fancy restaurant who has no qualms about projectile vomiting all over the place. Much of the supplemental material has been carried over from a 20th anniversary DVD release in 2003, which is in keeping with Cleese's enthusiasm in an interview filmed at that time for releasing all of their material regularly with entirely new packaging. That's not to say there aren't loads of fantastic extras for fans to enjoy, including deleted scenes, commentary tracks and a bunch of different documentaries breaking down all aspects of the production. The only new material is a ho-hum sing-along version of the film and a rather disappointing reunion with the surviving members discussing their conflicting memories of how things came together. The five are all still relatively sharp and funny, but the forced nature of their discussion leads to a few awkward silences and, finally, to some consternation that they were never as well regarded as they agree they should have been. (Universal)