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4.3 out of 5 stars
Monty Python's the Meaning of Life [DVD] [1983]
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 6 October 2013
The fourth Monty Python feature length offering is probably a clip lower in quality than Life of Brian or The Holy Grail but it's still a great way to spend 90 minutes and leagues ahead of ANYTHING out there today! Less story driven than its forebears and so, more sketch-centric with some musical numbers, The Meaning of Life takes a few misteps along it silly way but the good far outweighs the bad and Im glad we have it. Especially now! On Blu ray!

Picture quality is very pleasing for a film from 1983. I'm not expecting HD perfection and indeed, there is the odd fleck and speck still present in the image. However I've never seen it looking just so good as it does here and short of a complete remaster this is likely as good as we'll ever see the film.

The real boon, for me, in this release is the extras though. Headlined with a Python 'reunion' of sorts. Eric Idle is beamed from LA but the 4 remaining Pythons are all in London and it's a lovely hour long feature. We also have a commentary with Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam who are as entertaining as ever, some deleted scenes, a vintage interview and various featurettes which extend the replay value of the disc.

All in all a very respectable release for a silly, entertaining slice of Python and at a cheap price!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 12 April 2003
It is evident that by the time they created 'The Meaning of Life' the Python team were unafraid of offending and confusing their audience as much as they possibly could. Their cult status already established, they could more or less do as they pleased. Abandoning the more conventional narrative of their earlier films, the Pythons return to the surreal sketch format of their TV series, loosely connected by a quest for the meaning of life.

Content ranges from the disgusting, crude and unfunny live organ donation, through the disgusting, crude and very funny exploding glutton, Mr Creosote, to satires on corporate repression, catholicism, British imperialism, public schools and middle class consumerism. The film see-saws constantly between the coldly crude and delightfully cerebral, often within the same sketch, and herein lies its attraction. It's a bit of a rocky ride, sometimes uneasy, but compelling to the end. Ultimately this final Python film stands as one of the most subversive British comedies ever made.

Terry Gilliam's mock-featurette the 'Crimson Permanent Assurance Co.', which kicks off the film, could stand alone as a masterpiece of comic cinema and is worth the price of the whole DVD. Anybody who has ever suffered the indignity of clerical work for a large company will be carried away by Gilliam's fantasy of middle aged insurance clerks leading a mutiny, forcing their managers to walk the plank, raising anchor and sailing their entire neo-baroque office block off to do battle as pirates on the high-seas of international finance. Absolutely fantastic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 30 June 2004
this video rates very highly among the monty python videos- although i would advise buying the dvd with superb special features- the video still packs a very funny punch
favourite sketches include the wafer thin mint sketch and the 3rd world yorkshire sketch
a dfeinite buy for any monty python fan, even though slow at times the strange and out there humour will keep you hooked for a long time- and girls like it too
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2013
This review is for the all new blu ray transfer and not the DVD.
The picture quality is brilliant, it brings into sharp clarity all the detail I remembered from watching this at the cinema especially the Every Sperm is sacred dance routine, still hilarious especially it's depiction of dour Yorkshire. The picture has been cleaned up with all scratches, dirt fragments removed and it looks pristine. Of course the digital sound is so resonate and clear on a good home cinema setup.
This is the third version of the film I have owned, VHS AND DVD copies are now obsolete.
I haven't watched through all the new extras yet but did enjoy the cast reunion to discuss the film.
Python aficionados regard Life of Brian as their greatest achievement, I disagree, The Meaning of Life is a towering achievement, pungently shocking and visually outstanding, The Crimson Permanent Assurance opening short is still supremely funny ( the best thing Gilliam has ever done) and Eric Idle triumphs with all the splendid songs ( the soundtrack album is a must).
Ditch your DVD COPY this is superior in every way and remember to be kind to fish,
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2015
Unlike 'Brian' and 'Grail' this film comprises sketches, uneven in quality but at best hilarious; the boys had free rein and often use it to bait the audience, not only in the marvelously graphic Sex Lesson and the Noel Cowardy Idle singing about exposing himself as a lady makes an unfortunate period joke (a sign of their dabbling with Theatre of Cruelty, they want us to squirm) . We begin with spoof documentary about poverty Oop North then a rant about contraception culminating in a stunning 'Oliver!' style dance routine courtesy of Arlene Phillips. Of course 'Liver Transplant' is disgusting and funny,( "Can we have your liver then?"; nice very Python "then"); Palin's silly hospital admin. who adores "a machine that goes ping!"; Mr Creosote and his marvellous greed, proximate cause the "wafer theen mint" proffered by Cleese's smarmy waiter (lovely the way the innards flick and twitch, post explosion); the touchy French waiter Gaston walking home and waxing lyrical, then telling us where to go as he realises his life story is an embarrassing failure; the dinner party and the frightfully rude Mr Death ("a gentleman from the village"); great staff vs boys' public school Rugby Match won by...well the Masters of course, unfairly. This film has its misfires and there's something MOST odd about the cake-the-troops... especially one 'Spadger'...make-for-their officer in the World War One sketch, ["It's too good a cake not to eat" Officer (Jones) intones, with an odd, seemingly misplaced poignancy...]. there's true rage in it (Marxists would call it 'overdetermined'). Still, if patchy it is still extremely funny, at its best the most filmic of their film work; that Gilliam made 'Brazil' continues this aspect of their ouevre . My own view is they were infuriated at the state of the nation, as bilious and misanthropic as Chris Morris, post 1979 'Winter of Discontent' and the ushering in of Thatcherite philistinism; there was a lot to be furious at. Still is.
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on 15 April 2014
The "Meaning of Life" was quite a departure from "The Holy Grail" and "The Life of Brian" - it's probably a bit more true to the original TV series, a loosely-connected series of sketches on a common theme. It's a bit hit-and-miss though - there is still some incredibly witty writing and some great comedic moments, but without the boundaries and conventions of TV, the film relies on shocking the 1980's audience out of its comfy chair. Alongside witty gems like the "Zulu" parody and "Death", there's lots of 80's style gratuitous tits and bums, loads of sexual fumblings and probably more vomiting than you ever wanted. This works sometimes, with Mr. Creosote being a notable high point, but at other times it's a bit embarrassing, like your elderly uncle discussing the karma sutra.

It's incredibly funny at times, really world-changing stuff, but some of the time it's drawn-out and boring, sketches that test the patience a bit, particularly some of the musical numbers that seem to drag on forever. It's definitely worth watching for the gems of comic genius in there, but be prepared to be shifting uncomfortably in your seat for some of it.
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The final Monty Python film brings them full circle with a collection of sketches themed to give us the meaning of life by breaking it up from the cradle to the grave, starting with `The Miracle of Birth' and ending with `Death'.

Some sequences work better than others with the song and dance numbers in `The Third World' and `Live organ Transplants' stealing the show. Honourable mention also goes to `The Miracle of Birth', `Growth and Learning', `The Autumn Years' and `Death', which looking back is pretty much most of the film.

The Meaning of Life is less satisfying than The Quest for the Holy Grail or The Life of Brian due to its out and out sketch format but is still a great film viewed in isolation. Knowledge of The Meaning of Life is still out of sight but this film illustrates with Python life is at least worth living. So let's hope that there is intelligent life out in space, `cos there's bugger all down here on Earth.
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on 16 November 2009
Ok, so it doesn't have a single storyline, unlike Grail and Brian, but perhaps it's more in keeping with the original TV shows because of this. If you read Palin's diaries, you'll have an insight into the Pythons' writing process and understand why the Meaning of Life can seem disjointed. However, don't let that put you off watching this movie as it includes some of the funniest scenes/sketches Python wrote. The Miracle of Birth (Part 2), which others have mentioned already, has some great comic lines but is also a wonderful parody of Lionel Bart musicals. Mr Creosote is not so much hilarious but strangly hipnotic; you can't help but keep watching it to the ghastly conclusion. Other gems include Cleese as the school Headmaster, Chapman as the Army Doctor and, of course, Crimson Permanent Assurance (which, notably, appears to have inspired a commercial for a bank and a recent video by Norah Jones).
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on 16 November 2012
I am a great Monty Python fan, but have to admit that this is not their finest hour. Produced, I think, to make some money, rather then because they had an idea, it is basically a selection of sketches of differing lengths, loosely joined together by the theme of the ages of life.
Sme of the pieces are brilliant; 'every sperm is sacred' is probably, for me the best thing Python ever did, but other parts are pretty dire.
In fact overall, the best part is the accompanying short made by Terry Gilliam, which was left out of the main film because the others couldn't see how it fitted in!
So, a real curate's egg; if you're a python fan, there is stuff to enjoy. If you aren't, it doesn't show them at their best.
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on 30 June 2012
Be warned!!

This movie has its hilarious moments but it is also sooo very cynical. Actually the more times I see it, the more I see its misanthropic and dark side and it's becoming a bit disturbing.

Besided the funny jokes, some of which are really genius, in my opinion what the pythons try to say here is that there is no meaning of life.

Some of the sketches are about religion (christian/catholics in particular) that may be OK, but in this movie sometimes I get the awful feeling that they are poking fun directly at the very Almighty. Be prepared to that.

Beside that, this movie has its shining moments, especially the sexual education sketch, and the "special feature" intro.
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