The first feature-length film from Monty Python, the quintet of physically and verbally gymnastic British sketch comics, is not only widely considered their funniest, but one of the funniest films ever committed to celluloid. Known for abruptly ending TV skits mid-stream with the segue "And now for something completely different" -- due both to their distaste for writing endings and their ADD giddiness to move onward -- the troupe finds uncharacteristic continuity here, examining one fertile topic from each of its absurd angles. Yet the movie is still comprised of distinct segments, any of which could serve as a favorite for fans who want to recite the choicest dialogue and make converts of the uninitiated. But for five minutes of sheer uncontrollable hysterics, one need only watch the scene in which Graham Chapman steadily lops the limbs from a foolishly determined knight, who continues issuing taunts even after he's been totally neutralized. Irritated more than threatened, Chapman's King Arthur keeps hacking at the prating cripple just to shut him up -- it's the only sane reaction in this ridiculous world full of delusional windbags. Chapman is a wonderful constant as the frustrated straight man, and his colleagues lob one demented set piece after another "in his general direction." The temptation is to enumerate these clever interludes, but a catapulted cow really needs to be seen to be appreciated. The only time Monty Python and the Holy Grail stumbles is at its sudden ending, a cop-out that's pure Python. Or maybe it's just that any end to such enlightened joke slinging is cause for lament.
by Derek Armstrong review