Holy Flying Circus (2011)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

In 1979, Britain's most beloved comedy troupe, Monty Python (John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Jones) made film history when they teamed up with producer George Harrison to create the blissfully irreverent Biblical comedy The Life of Brian. Though the movie was a critical and commercial hit, it also stirred up torrents of indignation, particularly from Christian groups who found it transparently offensive. The Pythons disagreed, and even argued that the film contained a highly religious message buried in its comedy. Things came to a boil when Cleese and Palin participated in a talk show aired by a Catholic broadcaster and featuring a Bishop from the Church of England. This 2011 docudrama travels back to the late 1970s to recreate many of the events surrounding the film's controversy, including that famous talk show appearance. It stars Steve Punt as Idle, Charles Edwards as Palin, Rufus Jones as Jones, Phil Nichol as Gilliam, Darren Boyd as Cleese and Thomas Fisher as Chapman.
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama , Television
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Thomas Fisher
as Graham Chapman
Darren Boyd
as John Cleese
Charles Edwards
as Michael Palin
Simon Greenall
as Barry Atkins
Rufus Jones
as Terry Jones
Steve Punt
as Eric Idle
Phil Nichol
as Terry Gilliam
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Holy Flying Circus

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Audience Reviews for Holy Flying Circus

This is an embarrasingly bad film that could have been so very good. The leadup to Cleese and Palin's interview was a topic that had potential as a comedic drama, but the decision to make it a lightly dramatic comedy instead was a bad one for one reason: the lead writers don't have a comedic bone in their body. This film is aggressively unfunny. Every. Single. Joke. Falls. Flat. Not a one hits its target. Just by the laws of probability we should get at least one working joke. Heck, even serious dramas can pull that off. But the jokes here suck. The basic approach to humor is to ramp up the absurdity to ten and then continue on as if nothing happened. This was basically the Python approach so kudos for that, but the Pythons clearly knew the limits and style of their humor. They could make serious points provided that they exaggerated the beliefs of others into absurdity thus poking fun at the basic ideas they espoused. They also loved to make absurd characters who argued their viewpoints very seriously. In short, it was the contrast between absurdity and mundanity that made them so funny. Here the characters who are supposed to be absurd act absurd and when people are supposed to be serious they act serious. There's really awful interplay between these two modes. And these absurd bits are absolutely trying too hard. Take the following scene: Terry Gilliam upon getting early reviews immediately tears them apart to put them into one of his typical animations, which has the Pythons seated around with the devil arguing only to have Graham Chapman struck by lightning and run off setting the paper on fire to which Terry goes 'oh damn' and drops it. Now that doesn't make sense. The Pythons rarely do but they could get away with it because it was a comedy. This is structured like a drama but with random interludes like that every few minutes because 'hey, aren't the Pythons funny?' Needless to say it's very jarring. Like Michael Palin and John Cleese turning into puppets and fighting with lightsabers and swords. Why? There has to be some contrast with reality to be funny, certainly in the Python mode. Which is too bad because some of the performances are quite good, even if they are more focused on caricture than character. If they had been given a better script I don't doubt that they could have done wonders with it. As it stands though, they never get the chance.

Stuart McCunn
Stuart McCunn

I cannot reccomend this film. A documentary about the world's reaction to "Life of Brian", Python's finest effort, would be a worthy consideration. But instead, we get a scripted recreation of what the filmmakers surmise the troop members might do & say. Actors who do resemble the boys give uneven impersonations of the Pythons which are, for the most part, unconvincing. Here's the deal. There are certain things you don't mess with because you're just not going to do it justice to include The Marx Brothers, The Blues Brothers, Richard Pryor, George Carlin & The Kids In The Hall. In other words, Flying Circus is holy & Holy Flying Circus is no more than a very pale imitation. FYI, there is absolutely no documentary footage whatsoever. Will be extremely disappointing to an authentic fan. Just pull out your " Life Of Brian" bluray & watch it instead.

Chile Verde
Chile Verde

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