Eric Idle's Personal Best - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Eric Idle's Personal Best Reviews

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December 23, 2011
In Which the Strain of the Holiday Season Starts to Show

This is the fifth thing I've put in today in my determination to find something I can get through and then review. Honestly, I don't think they ought to let me review it, given it's basically just a clip show, but there we are. The database is screwy, and we've covered that before. The issue today has been that I'm just not terribly interested in most of what I have from the library right now, and two of my three Netflix selections were movies which bored me--which I couldn't remember putting on my list in the first place--and the third was [i]In Treatment[/i], which isn't in the database. There are a couple of holiday movies and things I could review, but on the other hand, I don't think I can face talking about them right now. So what we have is a review where I rather kill time in order to get in my full five paragraphs. Sorry.

A few years ago, in a flurry of cashing in on the whole thing, six DVDs were put together, each featuring what were considered the best sketches by the various members of Monty Python. This, obviously, is Eric Idle's, and it features lots of Eric Idle sketches held together by a mockumentary in which everyone interviewed about him--and the interviewer as well--is played by Idle. It's not a bad conceit, and it's one which works best with Idle. He is the best, after all, at Smarmy Interviewer Voice. Perhaps a third to half of the clips are from [i]Live at the Hollywood Bowl[/i], and a couple of them are from the episodes made for German television. The selection includes what is probably Idle's most notable sketch from the TV show, "Nudge Nudge," and a live performance where he takes a turn at "The Lumberjack Song."

I suppose it's worth noting that, really, Eric Idle didn't do most of the notable sketches. This happens to be the first of the set which I've gotten (yes, they're all alphabetized under "Monty"), and it makes me rather wonder what John's and Michael's collections will look like in comparison. Or Terry G., who mostly did animation and minor characters as needed. (I wonder if his accent had anything to do with it.) The show was an ensemble, but realistically, John Cleese and Michael Palin did most of the more notable sketches. Graham Chapman starred in [i]Holy Grail[/i] and [i]Life of Brian[/i]. When Eric Idle describes himself as "probably the third-tallest member" of the group, it's meant as a joke but highlights the fact that, really, his bits in the show weren't, by and large, as memorable as the others'. I mean, at least Terry G. has the animation, right? I doubt any of them want it put this way, but there it is. Terry J. won't be all the most famous sketches, either, and Graham will presumably include a compilation of interruptions by the colonel.

Yet it also strikes me that Eric Idle is the one who hangs onto Python the most. He's the one who is really behind [i]Spamalot[/i] and [i]Not the Messiah[/i]. Michael is traveling the world for the BBC. John is in Hollywood, making terrible movies. Terry G. is in random parts of the world, making quite good movies. Terry J. seems to be doing a fair number of medieval-themed documentaries. Graham, of course, is dead. But Eric Idle did make [i]Spamalot[/i] and [i]Not the Messiah[/i]. It's made quite clear in the documentary we did a few weeks ago that the reason the show ended was that John was bored with it and wanted to move on, and I've always half-suspected that, given the chance, Eric would be making it to this day. Not, mind you, in a "reliving past glory" kind of way. But in a "this was fun, so why did we stop?" kind of way. And as far as I can tell, he was having fun, so why should he want to stop?

Probably I won't bother reviewing the other five entries. I don't see the point, really. Though there is more [i]Monty Python[/i] to come--at least one or two more documentaries, and I don't think I've ever actually done [i]Meaning of Life[/i]. Which I'm pretty sure I own but have only watched all the way through once, many years ago. Not every aspect of [i]Monty Python[/i] is great art, and I think a lot of it is on par with a lot of those other British TV shows made around the same time which have essentially disappeared from the public consciousness. I don't know if it was luck, fate, good timing, or someone's deal with the Devil (or an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope?) which made these guys the ones who stuck in the mind and in the annals of TV history. But I think it was at least in part that they were just that little bit better than everyone else trying similar things at the time, and that even these lesser sketches are still hilarious is strong evidence of that.
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