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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 12.56%
Average: 2.24%
Pretty Bad: 1.79%
Total Crap: 3.59%

8 reviews, 175 user ratings

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Monty Python and the Holy Grail
by Rob Gonsalves

"Still crazy after all these years."
4 stars

For all the talk about 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' being the Python troupe’s first “proper” movie — with a narrative and everything, unlike their previous film, the sketch assortment 'And Now for Something Completely Different' — it is still, in large part, a sketch assortment.

The film turns 45 this month, and in the intervening years, its bits of business have become every bit as iconic as the boys’ greatest hits from Flying Circus. “Bring out your dead.” The Knights Who Say Ni. The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. And so on. The movie’s anarchic, shambolic nature (and the abruptness of the troupe’s desire to get on with it and get out of a bit) will shock a string of laughs out of the first-time (like-minded) viewer, but past a certain point, as it did this most recent time I sat with it, it becomes simply a warm bowl of comfort food. The film’s world of amiable nonsense looks so much better than the world of frightening nonsense we now occupy.

The filmmaking duo of Python, the two Terrys (Jones and Gilliam), cut their teeth here. Having no idea how to make a film, they taught themselves how to make a film by making this film. It shows, though charmingly. Occasionally there is a striking image that links Holy Grail to Gilliam’s Jabberwocky, Time Bandits and so forth, but largely it’s a slovenly piece of work directorially, though not necessarily in a bad way. The Pythons, after all, were thumbing their noses at the very concept of films, or epic films. As a film artist, Terry Gilliam grew astronomically in the ten years between Holy Grail and Brazil. Terry Jones, bless his soul, did not improve. The Jones-directed Life of Brian, naggingly funny as it often is, is as crude as the crudest parts of Holy Grail, and he continued to prove in such uneven attempts as Erik the Viking that filmmaking was not his strength. (I would say that aside from performing, Jones excelled as a writer and historian, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at.)

None of this is to throw shade at the film as a cult object and cultural going concern (even though the lucrative spin-off musical Spamalot ended up costing the boys 800,000 pounds in legal fees and royalties). We settle into the film’s ramshackle absurdity very quickly, as soon as the credits start being subtitled in increasingly baffling “Swedish.” We all agree to accept the “story” of King Arthur (the perfectly cast Graham Chapman) assembling his knights in search for the Grail, though usually the agreed-upon illusion of this as a story we’re being told doesn’t last long. There’s just too much meta-commentary for that illusion to hold firm. I don’t remember, say, Airplane! even at its most chaotic calling its own structure and credibility as a movie into question the way Holy Grail does. I think it was Danny Peary in Cult Movies 2 who floated the notion that we may as well be watching an asylum escapee who thinks he’s King Arthur, and the assorted goofs and loons accompanying him. Like Life of Brian, this film has little respect for mob illogic; a straight line could be drawn from the “Burn the witch” bit to the easily gulled crowds of followers in Brian.

I’ve seen Holy Grail on cable, on video, on the big screen (possibly a 20th-anniversary showing at the Coolidge Corner), and now on Netflix. All the things I appreciate in it — its restless, reckless imagination and its insistence on using its budgetary limitations for comic effect — are still there. Much as I love Python, I find a little of them goes a long way for me, and my watch beckoned a couple of times here, as it does during all their other feature-length romps. (It’s possible that their cinematic swan song, The Meaning of Life, has held up the best solely by virtue of not having been quoted to death.) Still, Holy Grail has a rumpled, unpretentious quality that ties it to other well-loved British cult films like Withnail & I and much of Edgar Wright’s output. It is the very definition of “right, boys, let’s go putter around these Scottish castles and see what we come back with.”

The comedy may be harsh at times — its quantity of (glaringly fake) gore may raise eyebrows among parents who take its PG rating on faith — but its impulse to entertain via what amounts to a clothesline of blackout sketches is reassuringly human.

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originally posted: 06/09/20 06:19:09
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User Comments

4/03/20 Anne lasted 20 minutes 1 stars
3/07/17 Louise Those who don't like it just don't get British humour. End of. 5 stars
11/22/09 R.W. Welch Occasionally too far out but mostly pretty inventive stuff. 4 stars
8/03/09 Stephen One of the funniest movies i'v ever seen! 5 stars
2/19/09 Fuck This Movie It Sucks This is the worst non funny movie ever 1 stars
4/07/08 Owl Must see, extermely stupid!! 4 stars
2/26/08 pkr there's no match to monty python in parody 5 stars
1/15/08 zenny It gets funnier every. single. time. 5 stars
10/23/07 Bitchflaps Twee, childish and not all that well timed. 2 stars
10/03/07 beaver Ni 5 stars
5/14/07 Eric Stop being a sheep and just admit that this is the worst over rated movie ever 1 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK Classic Monty python that will mostly entertain on both sides of the atlantic. 4 stars
1/05/07 Anarcho-syndicalist commune YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE. GET UP AND GO BUY IT RIGHT NOW. 5 stars
10/17/06 Quigley the killer rabbit, the guy beating the cat on the post, the holy hand grenade = mega-funny! 5 stars
10/17/06 AJ Muller dont like it?you're go give it another chance before I taunt you a second time. 5 stars
7/18/06 David Cohen Genius 5 stars
6/25/06 pedro one of the best movies ever, if you don't watch it you deserve to turn into a newt 5 stars
5/07/06 chienne Brilliabt, clever, witty, gorgeous to watch....amazing. And completely different. 5 stars
4/26/06 Boing She turned me into a newt!...............I got better 5 stars
11/17/05 Crystal Saw it when first came out and it still makes me laugh. Best British comedy ever made. 5 stars
11/10/05 Julia So hilarious! Defineley worth a look from anyone, I completley recsommend it! Oh, and "NI!" 5 stars
11/08/05 Mr Jak Ne 5 stars
10/03/05 Tim the Enchanter THERE ARE THOSE WHO CALL ME ... Tim? 5 stars
8/29/05 sweetgrrl1972 Brilliant 5 stars
8/28/05 asina the funniest movie ever made. 5 stars
8/17/05 ES There are some big laughs, almost unbelievable laughs, but its way over-hyped 4 stars
7/09/05 Rebecca No other comedy compares 5 stars
6/20/05 1 the rabbit scene is funny 5 stars
3/24/05 indrid cold It's fairly funny, but I it's not exactly hilarious from start to finish like most say. 3 stars
10/14/04 John Doe This is an amazing movie, watch it today 5 stars
9/14/04 Richard Zuithof The best film i've ever seen 5 stars
5/31/04 Nobody This is what every comedy should be like! 5 stars
5/14/04 Agent Sands It's funny and everything, but it's NOT THAT BIG A DEAL! 4 stars
5/06/04 horror_blood Pretty good comedy, but must be approached with an open mind (which most people lack). 5 stars
4/24/04 ranger4e Side splitting 5 stars
4/09/04 Daveman Utterly ingenious. Perhaps the best comedy ever made. 5 stars
2/16/04 Anarchy Azmi ADAM>>>>A DUMB 5 stars
1/04/04 Littlepurch Very funny in a sick, disturbing kind of way. Crap ending though which ruins it. 4 stars
12/07/03 Mike Why not trei a holiday in Sweden this yer? 5 stars
12/03/03 ADAM who likes this shit...STUPID COMEDY..OVERRATED 1 stars
11/28/03 john every scene seems to be a classic - very funny 5 stars
11/24/03 Gi Gi Coconuts don't migrate!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/01/03 Jim bob I want a shrubery and a with picket fence... 5 stars
9/19/03 gman some call me tim... 5 stars
9/18/03 AD funny as fuck 5 stars
7/17/03 Mr. Hat Very funny, but really overrated. "Life of Brian" was wittier & more clever. 4 stars
6/22/03 John Aster Habig awesome movie but the extra stuff they put in the DVD as part of the film sucks big 5 stars
6/08/03 AshFan Ni! Ni! Ni! 4 stars
5/22/03 fartzrgood this deserves 10 stars fools!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/01/03 Johnny Boy Funniest Movie I've seen in a long time REALY!!!!!! 5 stars
4/28/03 Angolmois Classic comedy, but it has aged quite a bit. What was outrageous then now is just amusing. 4 stars
4/25/03 mr. Pink Very funny, but also a bit overrated. 4 stars
4/16/03 JL totally awesome 5 stars
3/25/03 Arran Best film i have ever seen, stuff your horror bollocks. Watch this 5 stars
3/05/03 autonymous collective another poke in the eye for organised religion and the state!!! 5 stars
2/18/03 Rob Thanks for your page, it rocks!! 5 stars
1/28/03 Mitsaso Why should the bunny dieeee...... 5 stars
1/18/03 Josh Lyman 5 stars
1/01/03 John Aster Habig the movie that placed MP up w/ the Marx Bros 5 stars
12/23/02 E-Rock The single greatest comedy in the history of Film. NEE! 5 stars
12/06/02 i-might-be-giant kicks ass 5 stars
11/23/02 Lindsay Burrell Not a good as 'Brian', but well worth a look! 4 stars
11/13/02 Fred Wallace Awsome! Hilarious 5 stars
10/17/02 Charles Tatum There are some who know me as Tim 5 stars
9/29/02 Morally Sound Funniest movie ever! "The Holy Hand-Grenade of Antioch! AHHHHHHHH!" 5 stars
9/23/02 TomF Great film, has only gotten better with age 5 stars
9/23/02 The Bomb 69 okiedokie 5 stars
8/10/02 Film Guy Funny but a little boring. NI 3 stars
8/05/02 maximal01 The Special Edition fuckin ROCKS!! Go buy a copy today, you English pig dog!!! 5 stars
8/01/02 Film Dude Simply brilliant. 5 stars
7/28/02 Jon Fechez La Vache! 5 stars
7/23/02 Bueller "Are you suggesting that coconuts migrate?" Brilliant Python comedy, at it's best! 5 stars
7/15/02 Kyle You must bring us a shrubbery! 5 stars
7/11/02 Kristin to anyone who doesn't like it I fart in your general direction & your mother was a hampster 5 stars
7/05/02 Curtis Pure insanity. That's why it's (arguably) the greatest comedy film ever made. ;-) 5 stars
6/25/02 Jiz Funniest movie ever!!! Ni! Ni! Ni! Ni! Ni! Ni! 5 stars
4/28/02 Awen Revenez!!! Vite!!! 5 stars
4/26/02 Charles Tatum Monty Python were gods 5 stars
4/04/02 Tasha Very very good it is the best comedy ever made 5 stars
3/18/02 a knight who says "ni" Anyone who hates this movie has a very narrow sense of humour 5 stars
2/28/02 Alan Smithee Sheer comic perfection. The 2 disc DVD is hilarious. The Lego Knights are great! 5 stars
2/26/02 KMG I thought I had too much to drink 4 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Say no more! Say no more! 5 stars
2/01/02 Donnie Most Quoted Comedy Movie of ALL TIME! 5 stars
1/27/02 Mark Holmes Only a freak of nature would not find this funny. 5 stars
1/12/02 Andrew Carden People Are Gonna Hate Me For This. It Wasn't Very Good...Just My Own Opinion. 2 stars
1/11/02 Gracy Lionheart HA HA HA!!! I'M A LOONY!!! YAY for the Python Crew!!! 5 stars
12/30/01 sarafina only they can legally be that funny 5 stars
12/21/01 Leah Colven the funniest movie ever made 5 stars
11/09/01 Button Simply perfection! 5 stars
10/29/01 Mud_81 Elderberries 5 stars
10/26/01 moviegeek See the violence inherent in the system! 5 stars
10/26/01 Spock Absolutely hilarious! Deliciously illogical! 5 stars
10/15/01 Mr. Hat I like the Black Knight and the mean French guy. 4 stars
10/13/01 British Bulldog Superb film. The Monty Python team at their best. 5 stars
8/22/01 zeitgeist "blue. NO!" 5 stars
7/31/01 Henry Ginsberg Your mother was a hampster and your father smelled of elleberrys . 5 stars
5/27/01 There are some that call me....Tim You either get "it" or you don't. My sympathies to those who don't. 5 stars
5/13/01 fifu the funnest movie of all time "the black knight battle is the funnest thing" 5 stars
4/05/01 Hawkeye I direct you to whoever said that the movie was "dum." Takes brains to enjoy, but worth it! 5 stars
4/01/01 Jesse L All I can say is "Ni! Ni! Ni!" 5 stars
3/15/01 Richard Wright Very hit and miss film, great bits followed by pieces of lame humour.Not as good as Brian. 3 stars
3/05/01 Greyjack Five stars, obviously. Quite possibly the funniest comedy EVER. 5 stars
3/05/01 Kronos There are those who hate this film. They deserve our pity, not our scorn. 5 stars
3/02/01 otherwiggin awesome 5 stars
2/09/01 kay hall thought it was dum 2 stars
2/09/01 Amber Adams This movie sucked 1 stars
2/09/01 Frankie Richardson I loved this movie. It is in a class all its own. It is too bad there are no more movies 5 stars
1/27/01 elliot monty python are the kings of british humor 5 stars
1/22/01 Althaia I love this movie. 5 stars
1/15/01 Skip A real gem. 5 stars
1/04/01 jason bobby It was awsome 5 stars
12/28/00 TomServo Halarious 5 stars
12/20/00 dr.bernie the masters of comedy are at their maximum masterness in this film 5 stars
12/10/00 Pyromaniac This movie kicks ass! It's the first Monty Python I saw. It separates 'us' from 'them'. NI! 5 stars
12/05/00 edd Bloody brilliant i say!! 5 stars
12/04/00 Phil Sheridan Magnificent 5 stars
11/30/00 Joanna K Nice......... 5 stars
11/10/00 Mr. Right This is by far the greatest movie of all time. 5 stars
11/07/00 Kelly There's no way this movie CAN'T be loved! Anyone who hasn't seen it lives a sheltered life 5 stars
11/04/00 nunya what the hell!!!! 4 stars
10/29/00 Jon S. Can't say anything that hasn't been said before... 5 stars
10/22/00 Mike C. Anyone who doesn't like this film should be thrown to the killer rabbit!!! 5 stars
10/20/00 Mickey E. Suttle Back for more. This film kicks ass!! 5 stars
10/17/00 Wendy I loved it!!! All time favorite!! 5 stars
10/10/00 Breann13 "I wave my panties in your face. I will fart in your general direction" (french accent) 5 stars
10/07/00 Mickey E. Suttle One of the funniest films ever put on film. Great. Awesome. Superwow. 5 stars
10/07/00 brandon finken this was one of the best movies i have ever seen 5 stars
10/01/00 Matt What're you gonna do... BLEED ON ME???? 5 stars
9/11/00 Erin Monty Python. 'Nuff said. 5 stars
9/04/00 sevens absoluting the best comedy written and performed 5 stars
8/14/00 lordcaptain it fuckun rocks 5 stars
8/05/00 Jed Humorous but dumb in a bad way mainly for python fans. 3 stars
4/07/00 Sephiroth126 It makes me laugh just reading about scenes in rewiews.Get friends together, watch it! 5 stars
4/06/00 Moo Miester FUN! I LOVE IT! Why do reviewers always think that the most hysterical movies are lame? 5 stars
4/01/00 Tess This is THE funniest movie i've ever seen. I've watched is so many times i know every line! 5 stars
3/19/00 rikki its my all time favorite movie. 5 stars
3/17/00 Marc Silly 5 stars
3/09/00 David Rogers Funniest movie. I saw it 2 months ago and I'm still laughing. Ha! Ha! Ha! 5 stars
3/08/00 chicaleah you need to watch the movie more then once to find all the comiedy 5 stars
3/03/00 vnvbnyh ghnb a bloody funny movie, bloke 5 stars
1/18/00 Jedi15 JOHN WHITE, your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries. 5 stars
12/23/99 Wafer the most fucking brilliant movie ever 5 stars
12/20/99 Karen Gomes Being an a fan of Brit humour, I have to say that this film is on of the group's best. 5 stars
12/06/99 Ann "You can't hurt me, you've got no arms"-how often do you hear that? funny 5 stars
10/24/99 Emily H BLOODY BRILLIANT - the only not so good thing about it is that Life of Brian was better. 5 stars
10/17/99 JOHN WHITE SUCKS 1 stars
9/13/99 Steve Damn good..... 5 stars
9/11/99 Erik �stergaard Larsen This movie has it all! 5 stars
9/04/99 jesse keifenheim it is the best movie i've ever seen! 5 stars
8/26/99 Jason Kinsey Amazingly inventive! One of the funniest comedies I've seen! 5 stars
8/23/99 Physh I quote it everyday...that good. 5 stars
8/05/99 Exhibit A Tis but a scratch you knigget!!! Excellent comedy, best of python... 5 stars
8/03/99 Will G This is a classic. No person should be denied the humor in this movie 5 stars
7/24/99 Hagbard Celine Let me go back and face the peril! 5 stars
6/25/99 David Keech Too zany for me. I prefer their witty comedy. Watch "Life Of Brian" instead. 2 stars
6/09/99 Elizaveta Monty Python is the BEST comedy for ALL FREAKIN TIME 5 stars
6/06/99 Matthew Bartley Beware the rabbit, beware the rabbit 5 stars
5/15/99 Javachik It's Monty Python, what else can I possibly say!! 5 stars
3/05/99 little jerry The servants banging the coconuts is sheer genius.One of the greatest opening scenes ever. 5 stars
2/24/99 Beako One of my ALL TIME FAVORITES! 5 stars
2/02/99 Keith Bartelmey The only reasn you'll need to bring out your dead is because you'll die from laughter 5 stars
1/09/99 Thorn Silvertree Monty Python is one of the reasons God invented laughter. 5 stars
11/26/98 Mr.Pink Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni! 5 stars
11/20/98 tom sleepy time 1 stars
11/16/98 Jules Classic, funny, and a better medieval portrayal then HW's best glam. 5 stars
11/16/98 Lord Of The Dunce Very hit and miss, with more hit than miss. Some classic lines and scenes. 4 stars
10/27/98 Silent Rob The most accessable of the Python flicks, therefore just shy of 'F.A.' 4 stars
10/27/98 Christ Monkey Good late at night with a bunch of friends, I guess... 3 stars
10/25/98 J-Guy this movie makes me laugh hard. 5 stars
10/25/98 {{{OZ}}} Extremely funny, but does have some slow parts. Overall a must-see. 5 stars
10/25/98 Johny Classic comedy 5 stars
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  02-Apr-1975 (PG)
  DVD: 03-Oct-2006


  02-Jul-1975 (PG)

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