Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Born in a stable in Judea, Brian grows up to join a group of anti-Roman zealots, but his fate keeps getting confused with that of a certain carpenter.

Year: 1979
Certificate: 15
Director: Terry Jones
Starring: Graham ChapmanJohn CleeseTerry GilliamEric IdleTerry JonesMichael PalinTerence BaylerCarol Cleveland

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“He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy”, “Blessed are the cheesemakers”, “It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them”, “Romans go home” and “Always look on the bright side of life”. We can probably all spend an evening in the pub reciting our favourite Life of Brian quotes but when did you actually last watch “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” rather than just relish in the memories of your youth?

Well, I decided after the Python catalogue was added the other month that I would relive my youth and actually see if the movie was still as good as I remember. There’s a great podcast I listen to regularly called “I Saw That Years Ago” where they do just this (albeit in audio form rather than written) so in true internet fashion I’m going to totally rip off their format for this review. They’re lovely blokes so I’m sure they won’t mind.

So, what do I remember of “Monty Python’s Life of Brian”? First up, coming from a fairly religious family, I remember the film was somewhat frowned upon. Even in later years I was aware of the controversy it caused. But my opinion was always one of “well, what’s the problem? Brian never claimed to be Jesus – in fact he adamantly denied it!”. Was it just controversy for controversy’s sake?

There are so many great one-liners (see my opening paragraph) as well as some brilliant ‘sketches’ – particularly from the People’s Front of Judea (or whatever else they become/became), the Romans go home sketch, the haggling, the closing crucifixion scenes/song and the ongoing theme of Brian spending most of his adult life trying to explain that he’s not The Messiah.

The story is of a man called Brian who people seemed to think was The Messiah although I can’t actually remember why. Aside from the quotes mentioned earlier there’s not much of the story that I actually remember other than for many years he was having to fend off his followers and keep reminding them that he isn’t the messiah – and at the end he gets crucified and we all sing “Always look on the bright side of life”.

So, how well has “Life of Brian” aged? How many of my fond memories will be shattered with re-watching it? Well, I’m heading to watch it now so I’ll be back shortly with the results from New On Netflix Saw That Years Ago (catchy name, right?! I might start a podcast…)

OK, so my memories of “Life of Brian” weren’t as accurate as I thought – although not in a bad way. I had thought it was a movie thrown together from lots of sketches and one-liners but the actual storyline was well-structured and it did feel like a movie rather than an extended sketch show.

There were so many parts that I had forgotten – instead dwelling on the more famous quotes and scenes. The acting is typical Monty Python stuff – over the top, silly and lots of men playing women in screechy falsetto voices. But it’s all very cleverly put together while also being incredibly silly throughout. It has been a long time since I LLOL’d (literally laughed out loud) at a movie but I did, on multiple occasions, throughout “Life of Brian”. I would say it’s fairly typical Monty Python – clever, but silly.

Overall I am so glad I watched the whole film again instead of just clips and reminiscence. It’s a funny film that really has stood the test of time. Python fans will enjoy it but the important part is that non-Python fans will also enjoy it – in fact when I posted on Facebook that I was watching it, I was inundated with comments from friends saying how much they love the film – even though most weren’t Monty Python fans as such.

If you haven’t seen “Life of Brian” for a while then I urge you to give your funny bones some exercise and get it loaded up on Netflix (or on VHS if you’re really old-school).

If you’re in the mood for more Monty Python memories then take a listen to the I Saw That Years Ago Podcast episode about another Python movie: Monty Python and The Holy Grail 

Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!

About MaFt

Film and TV fan, creator of New On Netflix (UK, USA, Australia and Canada), dad of two amazing children, code geek and passionate about autism.

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