And Now For Something Completely Different

Year: 1971
Studio: Columbia
Director: Ian McNaughton
Writer: Graham Chapman/Eric Idle/John Cleese/Terry Jones/Terry Gilliam/Michael Palin
Cast: Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin

Like most people in the 70s and 80s I absolutely adored Monty Python and their work is still hilarious, sketch-based films like this occasionally side-splitting. Maybe it's a few decades of hindsight or the ongoing development of more sophisticated comedy, but watching it today the moments of dead air that occasionally creep into their longer skits are a bit more apparent.

Cobbled together from bits from Monty Python's Flying Circus, it contains some of the best and most beloved of Python material when they were cementing down the style and aesthetic the world knew and loved them for over subsequent decades. It's high concept theatre of the absurd, Terry Gilliam's signature animation style and bits that would later become their most famous acts (The Lumberjack Song, The Parrot Sketch, etc).

In fact if you spent the 20th Century living under a rock and don't know anything about Monty Python this is the best possible place to start to appreciate what they did and what they were about. The mountaineering skit with the cross-eyed expedition leader finishes on a hilarious note when the lead climber starts describing the route – across the room on the mantle and coffee table and finally crashing through the door. Others are less successful and go on a bit too long.

And it's all stitched together by showing Cleese in one ridiculous situation after another (seated at an office desk in the middle of a lake, reclining in a pink bikini after the camera's panned across a bevy of attractive women in swimwear with the voiceover of a sexually excited man in the background) deadpanning 'and now for something completely different' to the camera.

Being the product of the early 70s it's as politically incorrect as it is silly (as Graham Chapman playing a military officer denounces the goings on in a recurring bit) with one skit showing a parade of soldiers pracing about doing a song during their drills called 'Military Fairy'.

There's a full rundown of the skits on the film's Wikipedia page if you're curious or want to remind yourself of the best ones, but taken altogether it's completely emblematic of everything Monty Python did best.

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