Smile Politely

Revisiting The Holy Grail

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a witty, hilarious romp of a film that stars Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin.

Holy Grail tells the story of the quest King Arthur and his Knights of the Roundtable go on to acquire the Holy Grail. On the adventure, the knights encounter weird people and things as they seek out the grail. The knights who say “Ni” need a shrubbery and the poor nuns in a neighboring castle just want someone to love. Each knight has his own personality trait, but all of the characters are wacky and hilarious. One of my favorite scenes in the film involves Lancelot (John Cleese) as he encounters a castle with nuns that haven’t seen a man in years. The nuns keep trying to convince him to stay with them so they can all be fulfilled by having a romantic fling with him. The way that clueless Lancelot reacts to this is both honest and hilarious. He works very hard initially not to be in the company of these bizarre women. But when he realizes their true intentions, he has to be dragged away kicking and screaming by other Knights of the Roundtable.

The film, which was made in 1975, was directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones and is a testament to all that is great about British comedy. I love the idea that a group of people could mix political jokes about oppression into a film about the search for the Holy Grail. Everything about this film is silly and whimsical and it’s the perfect thing to watch if you need to unwind after a hard day on the job. The biggest positive of Holy Grail is that its premise is absurdly simple, but its jokes are complicated.

While I cannot say that the characters do anything other than make me laugh, there is a lot of fun to be had. I saw this film at the Art Theater with a moderately filled house. The great thing about seeing the film at the Art is that you can catch jokes you probably missed when you watched it at home, because each individual audience member has his or her own keen sense of humor and laughs at different times during the movie. This increased my enjoyment of the film tenfold because I was around people who appreciated and understood the same type of humor.

The bottom line is this: Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a film that deserves the attention of everyone who enjoys comedy on some cellular level. The cast is a superb group of British men who not only know how to make audiences laugh, but also know how to give us unexpected thinking moments. This film is a joyful romp at the movies. “Ni,” I say to you.

Five Stars.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is presented on 35mm and plays this Thursday at 10:00 p.m. at the Art Theater.


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