Monty Python: The Meaning of Live (2014) [Fantasia Film Festival]



You really have to appreciate the blunt honesty of the Python crew at their age and why they decided to team together after three decades to tour once again. They needed the money. After a brutal court battle over the creative rights of “The Holy Grail,” they were all left generally low on cash, so they decided to launch a stage show tour of their best bits to garner some quick cash and help seal their debts. There’s no fluff on a documentary that loves the Python crew. They love their fans, they love their work, but they need the money, and I respect the hell out of that.

Good for them that the tickets to their show sold out in forty seconds prompting the surviving members of the Monty Python comedy group to buck up and begin working on their acts again. It’s fun but also bittersweet to watch the group practicing their skits and gags again, because they’re older and admit that they’re losing their memory and energy as the years go on. Terry Jones especially struggles through remembering a lot of his roles in the famous segments, and worries about performing for a large audience. That doesn’t mean the group aren’t as fascinating as ever. Every man contributes in some fashion, and they’re all power houses of comedy and professionalism. They host candid interviews where they talk about themselves and each other, and don’t mind being honest.

They don’t have time to beat around the bush anymore, and that’s why fans have always loved the Python group. Most of the group admits that they can’t keep up with Cleese very much since he’s so intimidating on stage, and they also discuss Eric Idle returning to the stage after Spamalot and his mission to prove to his mates that he still can pack in a few laughs here and there. It’s gratifying to see the group can still pack a house and are rock stars even in their seventies, and they discuss how they approach fans, as well as their own bits. Sometimes they can cause audiences to erupt in laughter by merely uttering one line. And sometimes they can barely squeeze out a chuckle during a skit. There’s some wonderful archival footage shown for fans of the troupe that hardcore Python aficionados will appreciate, as well as anecdotes about how every member approaches comedy.

There’s a really fascinating story about how the dead parrot sketch initially garnered no laughter from the live audience during their original show, but eventually became a favorite because of live shows. Much of the classics are here in their live form as the Python group knows what the audience wants, and they try to deliver them as best as they can. It helps they still have a fondness for the material, and a willingness to deliver the best show that they can, and they still have a talent for surrealism. Their eliciting Stephen Hawking to sing the Galaxy Song is proof of that fact. Much of “The Meaning of Live” is a very honest and very upfront portrayal of the Python group and what they think of themselves and the Python phenomenon that shows no signs of waning any time soon. For Python fans it’s a wonderful film, and will speak waves about their comedy heroes, and instill a new sense of insight in to the Pythons.