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Wayback Wednesday: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Yes, most of this review is just quotes.

For the life of me I can’t determine what lead to a young Luke, we’re talking maybe 10 or 11 years old, to first seeing and thus becoming obsessed with the humour so rampant in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). It could have been my Dad’s eternal love for all things wacky. It may have been my trip to see “Spamalot” on stage. Or maybe it was simply my deep-rooted love and admiration for John Cleese after being exposed to countless viewings of Fawlty Towers (1975 – 1979) at my grandparents house. Sidenote, if you’re a comedy nerd and haven’t seen an episode of Fawlty Towers, oh my God, PLEASE go check it out! Whatever the origin, young Luke loved stepping into the silly world of Monty Python. I had not seen this movie in YEARS and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I still enjoyed it a lot! Not as much as pre-teen Luke, but I still laughed my ass off. 

Credit: / EMI Films

Inspired by Arthurian legend, Monty Python and the Holy Grail tells the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they embark on an epic quest to find the Holy Grail. Along the way the blundering knights encounter one silly obstacle after another, proving themselves to be the most unlikely and unqualified adventurers in all of history. 

It was amazing that in elementary school I found a couple of friends who were as enamoured with this movie and its signature comedy style as much as I was. We would quote the movie endlessly during recess and even planned an elaborate viewing party. That was maybe the first time I connected with people outside my family over a mutual love of something unapologetically silly and mildly obscure. To be 13 years old and find a group of friends who are as obsessed with quoting Cleese, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle is a magical feeling. In a weird way, friendship is kind of the heartbeat of this movie. The whole production, especially the writing, feels like a group of friends at a sleepover who spent all night pitching the silliest, most nonsensical jokes imaginable and then decided to grab their parents’ video camera and film a movie purely for their own enjoyment. It’s wacky, it’s looney and I love that this group of writer / actors decided to make a movie for themselves regardless of whether or not the masses found it as funny as they did. Only in a Monty Python production would the opening credits themselves be a joke!

Whether it be the brilliant comedic sketch writing, my own fond nostalgia, or just the British humour, but within the first 10 minutes I found myself loudly cackling at the plethora of witty, fun, tongue in cheek lines found in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I mean honestly, the whole movie is just one iconic comedy but after another. The first half hour alone features the memorable opening credits, the coconuts used to mimic the sound of galloping horses, the debate over how much weight a swallow can carry, “bring out your dead!” and the fan favourite scene with the Black Knight. Talk about iconic! “Tis but a scratch!” “It’s just a flesh wound.” The hilarity never slows down as the movie quickly flows from one memorable joke to another. I’m almost positive they had enough jokes in them to fill a three hour movie so it’s amazing that the entire movie is only a brisk 90 minutes. This incredible cast really are the masters of irreverent humour. Monty Python and the Holy Grail is not only a fantastically farcical take on Arthurian legend but a satirical rip on the epic fantasy genre as a whole. It’s this kind of humour that you can tell inspired other successful comedy series like Saturday Night Live (1975 – present), Austin Powers (1997 – 2002) and even Family Guy (1999 – present). 

Oh my God and how could I forget about the wildly hilarious and wildly iconic taunting of the French knights? “You and your silly English k-nig-its!…“I fart in your general direction!” Is this maybe the best part of the movie? I think so. After the French knights and Arthur and his knights split up, for me the strongest jokes and bits are in the rearview mirror. The movie becomes not quite as entertaining or drop down funny to me anymore. It slightly loses my attention. I feel like many of the movie’s best bits, the ones that are universally funny no matter what your sense of humour is like, are in the beginning. The rest of the movie is very much more suited for those who are hardcore fans of Monty Python and their specific brand of humour. That being said, I have absolutely all the time in the world for a killer bunny! Oh, and anytime Cleese or Idle is on the screen I recognize them as the MVPs of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I had a lot of fun revisiting Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This movie is a must-see for anyone who is a fan of the absurd, the nonsensical and the unapologetically ridiculous. An iconic comedy that continues to keep audiences laughing to this day, this movie is the real Holy Grail when it comes to ensemble satirical comedies.

Have you seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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