Release Year: 1979
Director: Terry Jones
Review: Monty Python will always have a special place in my heart. I grew up loving and endlessly quoting their work. Constantly watching their movies and listening to their albums shaped my taste in comedy. Somehow ‘Life of Brian’ always had eluded me. I tried watching it once, but I wasn’t in the mood for that kind of comedy and turned it off. So it was with great anticipation that I finally got to sit down and watch the masters of parody tackle religion.
As the movie began I was immediately reminded of Mel Brook’s ‘The History of the World: Part One’, which is similarly a parody taking place around the same time period. This worried me, since I absolutely detested that movie, and was worried that my beloved Python would also fall into the same pitfalls. Although at times, I did have some of the same problems with ‘Brian’, I can safely say that it is a much better movie. While both have some lowbrow humor that completely missed for me, ‘Brian’ has so much more. The story itself is strong, and it succeeds at being a biting satire of religion.
From the very beginning the table is set for the parallel story between Jesus and Brian, an everyday normal Jewish man just trying to live his life. Unfortunately, due to a series of circumstances, he is continually mistaken to be the messiah, much to his chagrin. By making these connections it throws the life of Jesus in sharp relief, and makes a lighthearted mockery of the entire religion. This is why good parodies are so enjoyable. It pokes fun at Christianity and even casts doubt upon it, but its never mean-spirited. It allows us to laugh at even the most serious subjects.
I can’t say that this was my favorite Python movie, but that’s not a knock against it. The story, rather than the jokes, are what won me over. I probably laughed less at it than their other work, but it was amusing throughout. I can’t say that I loved every minute, but I appreciate what they were trying to do, and it largely succeeds.