Monty Python's The Meaning of Life


Monty Python's The Meaning of Life

Critics Consensus

Monty Python's the Meaning of Life is rude, ribald, and unafraid to take comedic risks -- which is to say it should more than satisfy fans of the titular troupe.



Total Count: 35


Audience Score

User Ratings: 202,022
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Movie Info

The Meaning of Life is without a doubt the most tasteless of the Monty Python feature films; it also happens to be one of the funniest. Life's questions are "answered" in a series of outrageous vignettes, beginning with a pre-credits sequence at a staid London insurance company which transforms before our eyes into a pirate ship. One of our favorite bits involve the National Health doctors who try to claim a healthy liver from a still-living donor, pointing out that there's nothing in his contract preventing this. And of course, there's the scene with the world's most voracious glutton, who brings the art of vomiting to new heights before his spectacular demise. Be warned: though hilarious, this may be the grossest bit of comedy filmmaking ever conceived (there aren't enough words in the world to describe it in detail!). Loyal Pythonites Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin star in The Meaning of Life and share writing responsibilities, while Jones is in the director's chair this time out. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Graham Chapman
as Chairman/Fish #1/Doctor/Harry Blackitt/Wymer/Hordern
John Cleese
as Fish #2/Dr. Spencer/Humphrey Williams/Sturridge/Ainsworth
Terry Gilliam
as Private Walters, Third Fish, Donor, Window Washer/Fish #4/Walters/Middle of the Film Announcer, Howard, Max
Eric Idle
as Gunther/Fish #3/Mr. Moore/Mrs. Blackitt/Watson/Blackitt
Terry Jones
as Bert/Fish #6/Mum/Priest/Biggs/Sergeant/Man with Bendy Arms
Michael Palin
as Window Washer/Harry/Fish #5/Mr. Pycroft/Dad/Chaplain/Carter
Carol Cleveland
as Beefeater Waitress/Wife of Guest 1/Leaf Mother/Leaf Daughter
Patricia Quinn
as Mrs. Williams
Judy Loe
as Nurse #1
Simon Jones
as Chadwick/Jeremy Portland-Smythe
Andrew MacLachlan
as Groom/Wycliff/Victim #1/Guest #3
Mark Holmes
as Victim #2/Troll Waiter/Guest #2
Peter Lovstrom
as Brown's Son
George Silver
as Diner Eating Howard the Fish
Angela Mann
as Wife of Guest #2
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Critic Reviews for Monty Python's The Meaning of Life

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (5)

Audience Reviews for Monty Python's The Meaning of Life

  • Mar 09, 2015
    Doesn't hold up as well as some of Monty Python's other work, but there's enough classic moments in here to make it worthwhile watching.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 14, 2013
    Humphrey: What's wrong with a kiss, boy? Hmm? Why not start her off with a nice kiss? You don't have to go leaping straight for the clitoris like a bull at a gate. Give her a kiss, boy.  "It took God six days to create the earth, and Monty Python just 90 minutes to screw it all up." The Meaning of Life is the first Monty Python film I have the pleasure of watching, so I can't put any emphasis on comparing this to any of the others. That may actually be a good thing because I've heard the others are better. Overall, The Meaning of Life is a funny movie from the opening short film through to the feature presentation starting with Part 1- The Miracle of Birth to the last part, Death. Now some parts were great and some were not so great.  There's definitely a weirdly intelligent humor level in all of this despite just how stupid and ridiculous it all is. The wacky imagination of these guys is something of a mystery to me, but come on; it's impossible to not say their geniuses. The humor at work here may be unflattering, at times gross, and at other times just obscene, but there's a level of genius, and not just comedic genius, in it all.  Some of my favorite scenes were the sex-ed class, the whole Miracle of Birth, part one and two, and the Death scenes. The Middle Age part was kind of lazy and the whole Autumn years thing had its moments, but wasn't particularly satisfying. The Meaning of Life is definitely worth a look. These guys are extremely funny and their jokes in this one work more often then they don't. And of course you get to find out the actual meaning of life at the end. It's pretty profound too, so give it a look.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 30, 2012
    4 years after "Life of Brian", the Monty Python troupe, composed of John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, is back and as insightful and profound as ever in "The Meaning of Life", a surrealistic comic masterpiece that is quite possibly their most ambitious film ever. Hell, I wouldn't even bother to label it as their best. Unlike the previous two Python features, namely "Holy Grail" and "Life of Brian", both of which have modicums of a narrative, "The Meaning of Life" is infinitely more lose, non-cohesive and random. It is, for me, their most 'stream of consciousness' creation of the three. Opening with an awe-inspiring short involving geriatric employees and their very pirate-like attempt to take over the world's whole economic landscape, it is quite easy to see how bigger in scope "The Meaning of Life" is compared to the comic troupe's previous creations. And as the film progresses, it's also quite wondrous to sense and feel that Monty Python has since fully grown not just as an assemblage of comic geniuses but also as a thought-provoking lot. Ranging from sex to the very idea of heaven, hell and death, "The Meaning of Life" tackles almost everything under the sun (alas, even the very creation of sun itself and its brotherly stars), over the war-time trenches and inside the uterus. Split into various chapters, "The Meaning of Life" is comprised of sketches that are overwhelmingly funny yet also poignant with the truths that each of them speaks. And although the film's main intent is to leave you in stitches, it will also make you laughingly question yourself as to how relevant your minuscule place in this universe really is. But do not worry; Eric Idle will treat you with an affirming song of how miraculous your birth really is. And no, there's not a hint of sarcasm both in the tune and the lyrics. Despite of the film's bizarrely mocking tone, the film is embedded with an indelible humanity that actually means what it wants to say. Suddenly, here is Monty Python, the most humanly offensive and irreverent comic group that has ever graced the screens both small and big, traversing their most vulnerably human side. For me, what eagerly exemplifies this side is the scene when Eric Idle's French waiter character leads the camera (presumably representing us, the viewers) in a relatively long walk towards his humble home. He then explains, in a very non-philosophical, layman's manner, the meaning, for him, of life. "You see that house? That is where I was born. My mother said to me, "Garcon. The world is a beautiful place, and you must spread joy and contentment everywhere you go."" That was what Idle's waiter character has stated. Although it's a random, seemingly out of left field scene that's truly in contrast with the rest of the film's tone, it nonetheless strikes me as very life-affirming and, to a certain extent, even worthy of tears. Yes, "Life of Brian" is arguably their greatest work, but I will always reserve a special place both in my heart and mind for "The Meaning of Life". Not only is it a proof of how Monty Python is and will always be the best in terms of avant-garde comedy, it has also solidified the fact that the Python troupe indeed never lacks the silent sensitivity needed to tackle the very nuance of human existence itself. They have just made God quite irate, is all. Personally, I find "The Meaning of Life" to be more than just a comedy. Fittingly, I have watched it at around three o'clock in the morning. Waking up, I felt as if I haven't had a dream. Well, maybe the Sandman have had quite a hard time replicating or even surpassing the things I have just seen. The Pythons may have given the Dreamer a run for his money.
    Ivan D Super Reviewer
  • Dec 22, 2012
    The film transitioned from great scenes to highly mediocre scenes. Monsieur Bucket, Death, and school were all hysterical moments. War, rugby, and birth not as much. I typically like this kind of random nonsense, and this being my first Monty Python, I had high hopes. It ended up like "Airplane!" where they were half met. It's still a fun film, but I found it inconsistent, and some of the humor tried to hard
    Daniel D Super Reviewer

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