90 Movies in 90 Days: Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, most of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: Monty Python’s Life of Brian
Release Date: 17 August 1979
Director: Terry Jones
Production Company: HandMade Films | Python (Monty) Pictures

Of the four Monty Python movies, this is the only one that is most thoroughly a story rather than a series of sketches.  It’s also the one that’s always rubbed me the wrong way. The movie is about Brian (Graham Chapman) who is born at the same place and time as Jesus Christ and is mistaken for the Messiah but crowds of eager followers.  Jesus comes off pretty good in this movie but the satire of religious people runs deep. The Pythons also skewer intellectual revolutionary movements who waste time on committee meetings and in-fighting.

There are definitely some brilliant parts such as the “blessed are the cheesemakers” scene, Latin instruction from the Roman centurion, “Biggus Dickus,” and “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”  For some reason I always forget the scene where Brian ends up in a space battle. On the downside, a lot of the  crowds chasing Brian scenes and the crowds laughing at Pilate scenes are one note and just go on and on.  And then some parts have aged poorly, especially a scene where Reg (John Cleese) basically goes on a transphobic rant against Loretta (Eric Idle), which is sadly not too far removed from how an older, reactionary Cleese acts today.

I guess I can see why many people consider this the Pythons best movie, but while there are some great parts it’s still hit or miss for me.  I am happy to have learned a great story about Welsh actor Sue Jones-Davies who plays Judith in this movie.  Her hometown of Aberystwyth banned showing the movie, but in 2008 she became mayor, and oversaw the first screening of the movie the next year.

Rating: ***1/2

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