Film: Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Year: 1975
Rating: ****
Summary: Very funny, but the sum of its parts is better than the whole.

This movie is a comedy set in Britain in the middle ages. If you've seen anything by the Monty Python lads before, you can probably already guess whether you'll like it or not, as it uses the same surreal humour as their other films and original TV show. If you like their humour, it's worth watching just for the ability to quote it with friends. If not, then you probably won't like this any more than anything else of theirs.

It's clear from the very first shot that the team was on a tight budget - they couldn't even afford to have the characters riding on horses. Instead, the characters bang two halves of coconuts together. Rather than ignore this, they instead go as far as to make the absurdity of Britons in the middle ages having access to such exotic fruit a running joke for the entire movie.

Each individual scene is very funny, and any one of them would be worth watching in its own right, even in isolation. The invincible black knight scene in particular is a classic moment in the history of comedy.

This was the first film by the Monty Python lads, and it's obvious that they were only used to loosely stringing together unrelated sketches. There's no real plot to speak of, and it comes across like a patchwork quilt of different ideas and stories that have been haphazardly meshed together. There's no rising conflict or satisfying ending, just a lot of funny moments strung together in a story that eventually just fizzles out.

Although this film makes a lousy whole story, each of its parts is fantastic in its own right. As long as you don't expect a plot, or any sort of sense at all for that matter, it's a collection of brilliant sketches that happen to be set in the same era. This makes it unique in that it's just as enjoyable to watch one or two specific scenes as it is to watch it all the way through.

To avoid disappointment, try not to have any expectations of what it should be like. If you want to watch something that makes sense as a single story, try Monty Python's more coherent film, the Life of Brian, or even the romantic medieval comedy The Princess Bride instead. If you just want to watch something funny, and don't need a story, try Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It's hilarious and filled with classic scenes.