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Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

tomatometer

97

Average Rating: 8.4/10
Reviews Counted: 67
Fresh: 65 | Rotten: 2

A cult classic as gut-bustingly hilarious as it is blithely ridiculous, Monty Python and the Holy Grail has lost none of its exceedingly silly charm.

94

Average Rating: 8.1/10
Critic Reviews: 17
Fresh: 16 | Rotten: 1

A cult classic as gut-bustingly hilarious as it is blithely ridiculous, Monty Python and the Holy Grail has lost none of its exceedingly silly charm.

audience

95

liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 640,909

My Rating

Movie Info

From its opening multi-language titles (that sure looks like Swedish) to the closing arrest of the entire Dark Ages cast by modern-day bobbies, Monty Python and the Holy Grail helped to define "irreverence" and became an instant cult classic. This time the Pythonites savage the legend of King Arthur, juxtaposing some excellently selected exterior locations with an unending stream of anachronistic one-liners, non sequiturs, and slapstick set pieces. The Knights of the Round Table set off in

Sep 7, 1999

Almi Cinema 5

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All Critics (68) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (65) | Rotten (2) | DVD (55)

Here is Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which is neither as sparkling as it is said to be nor as bad as it seems to be at the start. But it's pretty good.

November 18, 2013 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Grail is as funny as a movie can get, but it is also a tough-minded picture -- as outraged about the human propensity for violence as it is outrageous in its attack on that propensity.

March 29, 2011 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
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Silly, sophomoric, and slapped together -- but would you want it any other way?

March 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Monty Python's Flying Circus, the British comedy group which gained fame via BBC-TV, send-up Arthurian legend, performed in whimsical fashion with Graham Chapman an effective straight man as King Arthur.

September 4, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
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Python's delightful and, on the whole, consistent reductio ad absurdum of the Grail legend.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A marvelously particular kind of lunatic endeavor.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Python team's surreal take on the legend of Camelot bursts with inspired lunacy.

November 18, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

This remains a wonderfully inventive comedy that brilliantly debunks the Dark Ages and legends of chivalry.

November 18, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Monty Python and the Holy Grail may be 26 years old, but even in the fast-moving world of pop culture, it's no relic. It's still the Holy Grail of crazy comedy.

November 26, 2012 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

There's a semblance of a plot, but this is really just an excuse for the boys to engage in their unique brand of humor, which includes mimicry, dress-up, dry wit, slapstick and glorious non sequitors.

April 25, 2012 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

If you like this film, the sad truth is that it's yet another visual upgrade, and it does contain what Gilliam called "the only reason for buying the Blu-ray"-those lost animations.

March 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

A comedy classic that only misses out on the Python canon's top spot because the talented swines also made Life Of Brian.

March 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

There's something about feature films that brings out the best in the Pythons. The occasional indulgence of the TV series is replaced by a more focused approach which wrings every conceivable joke out of a given subject.

March 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

A zany, hysterically funny, and sometimes brilliant if sometimes sophomoric send-up of every medieval movie ever made.

March 29, 2011 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

This has to be one of the funniest movies I've ever seen.

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Troupe members Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones helmed this feature, bringing to it a visual style that is both cinematic and outrageously surreal.

July 10, 2007 Full Review Source: DVD Review
DVD Review

A wonderful charm filters through these almost collegiate efforts, as if these underfunded Brits, in doing their best, did it better.

December 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

It's still one of the funniest, silliest and all-out strangest films you'll ever see. Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time.

October 7, 2006 Full Review Source: Bullz-Eye.com
Bullz-Eye.com

I laughed so hard I thought I would stop breathing.

August 12, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Thirty-one years after its release, this remains my favorite Python feature, and you probably already know if it's yours as well.

July 20, 2006
Los Angeles CityBeat

Audience Reviews for Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is one of the few comedy films which continues to deserve its hype. Now thirty-eight years old, it remains incessantly hilarious, fantastically silly, magically absurd and brilliantly surreal, right down to the last detail. It is the perfect balance of intelligence and madcap anarchy, drawn together by razor-sharp writing and superb comic timing from every performer. It is low-budget film-making at its absolute best, and one of the best films of the 1970s.

The first and biggest hurdle that Holy Grail has to overcome is the transition from the small screen to something more cinematic. Many comedy series have faltered here, but the very essence and structure of Python gives them a leg-up. The TV shows were always conceived as streams of consciousness, in which ideas bled into one another and minds wandered freely. Scenes ended not with a punch line, but when things stopped being funny, and nobody either inside or outside the joke questioned it. This means there is far greater scope to construct an over-arching narrative over the course of ninety minutes, as opposed to creating an anthology of episodes similar to And Now For Something Completely Different.

The second hurdle, arising from this, is preventing the film from becoming baggy or having long sections of no laughs in between set-pieces. Thankfully this problem is swiftly overcome by two means, one intentional, the other not so. On the one hand, Holy Grail was very tightly scripted from the beginning, under the same rules and restrictions of the TV series - namely, if it's not funny, it goes. This led at one point to half the script being binned because it didn't gel with the rest of the story. On the other hand, the very, very low budget (less than £250,000) meant that there was simply no room to shoot any scene or sequence for longer than was deemed necessary.

The result of this careful preparation, and even more careful execution, is a film which is not only efficient but incessantly funny. From the famous opening credits to the Castle Aargh and everything in between, the film is packed full of jokes in a way which, Airplane! aside, has never been emulated. Every conversation builds as a routine to a hilarious climax, and barely a line goes by without something quotable coming along. The script is the perfect balance between the verbal and the visual, high-brow and low-brow, making it a comedy film that is genuinely for everyone.

There is not enough room to praise or point out all the great sequences, not without giving a scene-by-scene commentary of the whole film. There are, however, a number of categories of jokes which can be easily recognised. Although the film as a whole is a spoof of the Arthurian legends and the epics of Cecil B. DeMille, very little of the humour is derived from directly poking fun at these things, in the manner of Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein. Instead we have numerous examples of surreal absurdity (the Knights Who Say Ni ordering Arthur to cut down a tree with a herring); repetition (the Bridge of Death, Swamp Castle); existential role-reversal (Dennis the peasant arguing about anarcho-syndicalism); and running gags (swallows with coconuts, the cat being beaten, and the constant appearance of rabbits).

One question which has bothered both Python fans and film fans alike is whether or not this is better than the Life of Brian. John Cleese opines that Brian is a "more mature" work, noting sardonically how Americans tend to prefer Holy Grail while Brits opt for Brian. And he does have something of a point. It is more mature and professional from a technical point of view, and it is more substantial in either its subject matter or its use of it. But Life of Brian has its problems, most of which relate ironically to its abundance of substance.

Although the film is still very funny, it has a more obvious axe to grind than Holy Grail, and there are moments where it loses sight of what is truly funny in favour of focussing on what is simply uncomfortable. In Life of Brian, you're focussed on the story so intently, so aware of the intelligence and the controversy, that many of the little distractions - like the aliens sequence - get lost. In Holy Grail, you still follow the story with some intent, and everything is efficiently told, but the jokes speak for themselves and ultimately triumph over ever other aspect.

Every member of the Python team is at the top of their game in Holy Grail - even Graham Chapman, who was still a rampant alcoholic and struggled to remember his lines. Like all the Python films, this is an ensemble piece; no one member is allowed to dominate and be the star, no matter how many roles Michael Palin plays. Terry Gilliam's animations are as beautifully mad as ever, helping at very least to get around the budgetary limits and humorously divert us while time passes.

Each of the six gets at least one scene in which they excel, although Cleese is particularly brilliant in both the fight with the Black Knight and the one-man assault on Swamp Castle. Like all the best low-budget films, you're so swept along by the story and laughter that you aren't constantly trying to spot the body doubles or continuity errors. After a while you don't even notice it's the same six guys playing all the characters (well, almost).

The influence of Holy Grail remains writ large in comedy and in film-making. To some extent, this is unsurprising because of Gilliam's subsequent success. His first post-Python films, Jabberwocky and Time Bandits, have Holy Grail hovering somewhere in the background either in the story or the aesthetics. Likewise much of Handmade Films' output owes something to the ropey, creaky (but still fantastic) look of this film.

The film's most curious legacy, however, lies in the realm of horror comedy. Python's relationship with gore started in the TV series - think of the sketch about Sam Peckinpah's 'Salad Days', with blood oozing from every limb and every prop serving as a murder weapon. In the film we have the Black Knight, Swamp Castle, the Killer Rabbit and the Bridge of Death, all of which are simultaneously gross-out horrific and laugh-out-loud hilarious. You only have to look at Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead or Peter Jackson's Brain Dead to see reflections of Python's undying genius.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the film to turn to whenever you lose faith in the power and lifespan of comedy. It is brilliantly written, brilliantly acted, and contains more moments of hysterical laughter than almost any other film. It still has the charm and vibrancy which it had at the point of its conception, and its reputation and influence will only grow as time goes by. For all the subsequent efforts of Python, both as a troupe and individually, this remains their finest achievement and the benchmark against which all their other work should be measured. It's a masterpiece, a classic, a joy and a thrill - quite simply, the greatest comedy of all time.
January 10, 2014
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

Lo! Monty Python and the Holy Grail hast spake unto thee of King Arthur and ye olde Knights of the Round Table, amidst ye olde low budget! Okay, I won't write my whole review like that. My Old English is a bit rusty, and I hesitate to say you actually understood what I was saying. The same goes for the film itself, however. British comic troupe Monty Python debuted on television in the late 1960s with Flying Circus. Three years after compiling some skits from that series into a 1971 film, the gang released this film, arguably their first true feature-length work, whilst still faithful to the offbeat, farcical, often nonsensical taste that popularized them.

read it all at my blog
October 16, 2012
spielberg00

Super Reviewer

It's a shame I can't give a film 7 stars out of 5, because this film is almost worthy of that. One of my favorite reviewers online (Movie Bob for The Escapist) once pointed out that its extremely difficult to review a good comedy because it's impossible to accurately review it without giving away the good parts. And I'm now faced with this problem times a million. This is one of the funniest (if not the funniest) films of all time. Just take my word for it, this is a great film.
May 20, 2012
Jacob Ethington

Super Reviewer

A charming and hilarious cult, The Holy Grail is certally one of the most funniest films that I ever saw. This first full length by the british group Monty Python, it's a unique odyssey by the medieval time with surrealist humor and remarkable characters, scenes and lines. In the edge from absurd and silliness, Monty Python and The Holy Grail gonna make the audience laugh from the opening titles until the last scene.
April 21, 2012
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

    1. French: Now go away or I will taunt you a second time.
    – Submitted by John O (10 months ago)
    1. Black Knight: All right, we'll call it a draw.
    – Submitted by Ben C (17 months ago)
    1. Old Man from Scene 24: Our King? Well I didn't vote for you!
    – Submitted by Dan P (18 months ago)
    1. French: Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!
    – Submitted by Edward JM G (18 months ago)
    1. Three-Headed Knight: (First Head)I say let's kill him.
    2. Three-Headed Knight: (Second Head) Let's have tea first.
    3. Three-Headed Knight: (Third Head) Oh, stop your whining. First we kill him, then we have biscuts and tea.
    4. Three-Headed Knight: (Second Head) No biscuts. Let's just kill him already.
    5. Three-Headed Knight: (First Head) Alright, alright. First we kill him, then we have tea.
    6. Three-Headed Knight: (All Three) Right.
    7. Black Knight: (Second Head) Why, the blokes' run off!
    – Submitted by Samantha A (19 months ago)
    1. Knight: Ni!
    – Submitted by Bobby S (20 months ago)
View all quotes (64)

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