MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL: This classic Monty Python comedy, directed by Pythons Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, is a hilarious send-up of the Middle Ages as seen through the story of King Arthur and framed by a modern-day murder investigation. When the mythical king of the Britons leads his knights on a quest for the Holy Grail, they face a wide array of horrors, including a persistent Black Knight, a three-headed giant, a cadre of shrubbery-challenged knights, the perilous Castle Anthrax, a killer rabbit, a house of lascivious virgins, and a handful of rude Frenchmen. Melding the ridiculous with the sublime, the film quickly acquired a cult following, generated a host of quotes, and even inspired a computer game 20 years after its release. The numerous songs and vignettes are sidesplittingly unforgettable.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT consists of some of Monty Python's funniest sketches from their earliest years together. Director Ian MacNaughton leads John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Terry Gilliam on a hilarious romp through familiar Python locales. These include pet shops, marriage counselor offices, and odd London streets, populated by upper-class twits, old ladies on motorcycles, bank robbers, crazy flashers, dirty forks, murderous chefs, and jokes that kill--literally. The sketches have been re-created for the big screen, without the ever-present laugh track, but are still loaded with Gilliam's outrageously funny surreal animation. As in the television show, the skits are linked together through Gilliam's clever animation as well as by characters in uniform (Graham Chapman, in this case) proclaiming sternly, "I'm warning this film not to get silly again." Among Monty Python's favorite targets are the military, the police, the British government, the courts, Mao, Uncle Sam, and television reporters. As always, there are lots of men in drag. Even the closing credits are a riot. But watch out for that 16-ton weight! AND NOW is a perfect introduction for the viewer who is new to Monty Python's unpredictable comic stylings and brilliant wit in performance.
THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN tells the legend of an old man who has lived a fairy-tale life. In the late 18th century, the Age of Reason has no room for fantasy. In a town besieged by murderous enemies, a traveling company is putting on a stage show about the apocryphal Baron Munchausen, who, with his motley crew of servants, supposedly circled the globe and the universe, following each bizarre adventure with one even more strange and ludicrous. But then a man appears at the theater claiming to be the real Baron, and to prove it, he goes off on one final journey to save the town, chased all along the way by the winged specter of death.
Terry Gilliam never met an epic spectacle he didn't like. MUNCHAUSEN is loaded with brilliant set pieces, including spinning heads on the moon and a giant Botticelli clamshell in the bottom of a hellish volcano. Gilliam has assembled a stellar cast, including John Neville as the Baron, Oliver Reed as Vulcan, Jonathan Pryce (BRAZIL), Jack Purvis (Wally in TIME BANDITS), Robin Williams (credited as Ray D. Tutto), Eric Idle (who contributes "The Torturer's Apprentice" with Michael Kamen to the soundtrack), Charles McKeown (LIFE OF BRIAN), a cameo by Sting, and early appearances by Sarah Polley (as young Sally Salt) and Uma Thurman. Gilliam's special-effects bonanza is a modern retelling of THE WIZARD OF OZ, a fabulous adventure filled with daring feats, preposterous nonsense, danger galore, and the overall belief that a world without fantasy is a sad world indeed.