Sunday, December 12, 2010

Monty Python's Life of Brian

A lot of people think Life of Brian is the best movie Monty Python did, some going so far as to call it the best comedy film ever made. I disagree, on the basis of it not being nearly as funny as their other two films. Obviously there's more to movies than laughs, and in some ways, Life of Brian is their most impressive work. It actually tells a story, with a cohesive plot and recurring characters through the whole thing, without many scenes that just feel like disconnected sketches thrown together to tell a few jokes. The cast is still mostly the Python members playing multiple roles each, but there's definitely more people involved than usual, and there's actually a point to the whole thing, as they have several interesting things about faith and the role of the church to say that are actually still relevant thirty years later. But it's just not as funny, and I don't think their admirable stab at making a movie like normal people makes up for that gap.

Brian is played by Graham Chapman, who fits the leading man role fairly well again, and ever since he was born next door to Jesus Christ, he's grown up in his shadow. He's been to a few sermons, though they aren't as effective when you're too far away to properly hear what's actually being said. He lives a usual life for a Jew in Rome, until he is so incensed at learning that his father was actually Roman that he decides to join one of several splinter resistance groups. He spends a fair amount of time rebelling and being chased by guards until it leads him to giving an incidental sermon of his own, which leads to him developing his own following. His story follows a parallel to Jesus' as you might expect right to its natural conclusion, which is fairly easily the best ending to anything the members of Monty Python ever wrote. All of the members get a few moments to shine, and the movie's also notable for some of its more bizarre ways to get Brian from point A to point B and its clever use of comedic nudity. Like I said, it's not as gut-bustingly hilarious as their other work, but it's still a really enjoyable watch, from the tone-setting opening scene to the somehow darkly upbeat finale. It really should be seen by anyone who wonders about religion, provided they can actually see what the movie is trying to say.

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