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LIFE OF BRIAN
The Immaculate Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
Director:  Terry Jones
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Sony
Features:  See Review
Length:  93 Minutes
Release Date: 
January 29, 2008

"All right then...I AM the Messiah!...Now...F**K OFF!!"

(long pause)

"How shall we f**k off, O Lord?"

Film ***1/2

There's a charming, memorable tune in Monty Python's Life of Brian called "The Bright Side of Life". It's infectious and unforgettable, and most likely, you won't be forgetting the scene in the movie where they sing it, either.

The bad boys from Britain take on all things sacred here, and the result is arguably their funniest film together. You'll laugh till it hurts, if you're not too offended in the interim. Then again, you may be offended and laugh anyway, then head to straight to confession to ease your conscience.

It's not directly a spoof on the life of Jesus of Nazareth, mind you. Rather, they create a fictional character, Brian (Chapman) who happens to be born at the same time, and seems destined to be looked to as a prophet, even if he has to be dragged kicking and screaming into it.

Monty Python’s humor has always been an equal mix of the crude and the intelligent.  I don’t think they’ve ever considered a joke too crude to use…yet on the other side of the coin, there is a sophistication to their humor that appeals to even the most educated minds.  For example, when Brian paints the “Romans Go Home” graffiti in Latin and gets caught by a centurion, who is livid.  Brian doesn’t know his Latin very well, it turns out, and the soldier forces him to conjugate his words until he gets it right.

Many other jokes I cannot repeat here...as I said, nothing is off limits for the Python's legendary wit, and usually the more poor in taste, the funnier the results. The arguments over just how bad crucifixion is, for example ("Well, at least you get out in the open air"). Or Pontius Pilate (Palin), who, with a terrible speech impediment, grills centurion after centurion demanding to know what's so funny about the name of his close friend, which is...no, can't go there, either. Sorry.

The bottom line is if your constitution is one that offends easily, you'd best stay clear of this film; it wasn't made for you. But if you don't have a problem with a merry, masterful comic troupe that finds humor in everything, even things that normally wouldn't be considered funny by any stretch of the imagination, you're bound to have a great time watching this movie.

Video ***

This Sony version is a marked improvement over the earlier releases from Anchor Bay and Criterion.  Though there are still some limitations as far as visible grain, the images are much clearer and colors are much brighter.  I've seen many home video versions of the film over the years, and this is by far the best.

Audio ***

The newly remastered 5.1 soundtrack is a real treat, too...livelier and more dynamic than previous versions, with dialogue clean and clear and the music getting a nice added boost.

Features ****

The first disc contains two commentaries, one by Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle, and one by Michael Palin and John Cleese.  The second disc boasts 5 deleted scenes with Python commentary, four British radio ads, a new hour-long documentary, plus a 110 recording of the Pythons showing the early screenplay in progress.  An Easter egg gives you the DVD credits.  The menu screens are animated and nicely done.

Summary:

Life of Brian may very well be the funniest film offering from a legendary troupe of comic geniuses.  If you’re easily offended, steer clear, but if you’re willing to find the humor in just about anything, as these boys do, then treat yourself to this nicely packaged DVD offering from Sony.

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