Director: Ian MacNaughton
Cast: John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle
Watch And Now for Something Completely Different online in the UK: Amazon Instant Video
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that Monty Python started out as a TV sketch show. Between the naughty boy Messiahs and killer rabbits, you could almost overlook the dead parrots and cheese shops. And Now for Something Completely Different reminds you just how great that old Flying Circus was.
Effectively a 90-minute highlights reel of the comic troupe’s small screen creations, it’s weakness and strength lies in precisely that: on the one hand, it’s not really a film; on the other, it’s a gleefully bitty compendium of gold. The down side is it’s nothing new; the plus side is it’s all joyfully familiar.
Actually, to say it’s all old material is to do the piece a slight injustice. Away from the 30-minute broadcast constraints, And Now… is, in some ways, Monty Python let further off the leash; the absurd tapestry of giggles is stitched together with Terry Gilliam animations, helping the silly stream-of-consciousness to overlap and bleed into itself to an impressive degree. Old women trip over buses that crash into the next scene; cannibal babies suck the entire screen into their gaping mouths. If Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life suffered from its skit-like structure, And Now… revels in it.
Well-known numbers are given a fresh dusting off, shot especially for the feature-length outing. The production budget may be low, but the lines are still funny. Indeed, all of your favourites are there, from the obvious – “I came here for an argument!” – to the less so – the fish-slapping dance – each delivered with the kind of flawless comic timing you come to expect from Messrs. Palin, Cleese, Jones, Gilliam and Chapman. Indeed, with Graham still alive and kicking, his wonderful presence marks And Now… out from the other live recordings carried out since; this is the complete Monty Python in every sense of the word.
It may not be a fully-formed movie, but it was never intended to be – it was designed to help Python break into the American market. That may not have worked, but the end result is a delightful anthology that serves existing fans just fine. If you don’t own the whole of Flying Circus on DVD, this is as good as it gets.