Movie review: Monty Python serves up usual shenanigans

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Today, we are all pining for the fjords.

The British (well, almost all British) comedy troupe influenced popular humor through its brainy, offensive, cheerfully stupid sketch show, “Monty Python’‍s Flying Circus,” and films such as “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (“We are the Knights Who say ‘‍Ni!’‍”). If the five remaining members are true to their word, there will be no more Norwegian Blue parrots nailed to perches, no more Ministry of Silly Walks, no more cross-dressing lumberjacks, no more Eric Idle sidling up to strangers in pubs (“nudge, nudge, wink, wink”).

"Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go” hit the last of its 10 shows at London’‍s 02 Arena Sunday. The event was cinecast to 450 theaters in the United Kingdom as well as 1,500 worldwide. It played to a near-capacity crowd Sunday at the Cinemark at Pittsburgh Mills mall in Frazer.

The program repeats tonight and Thursday at 7:30 at Pittsburgh Mills, Cinemark Center in Center Township and the Morgantown Stadium 12 in West Virginia (tickets at fathomevents.com).

And now for something completely different? Not on your life. After opening with a shot of the late Graham Chapman’‍s head and “Doctor Who’‍s” TARDIS crashing to the stage, the show featured live versions of Python classics such as the penguin on the telly and Terry Jones extolling the virtues of “Anthrax ripple” candy.

Terry Gilliam, the lone Yank among Brits, had a hard time keeping a straight face during the latter sketch. But then, he had just placed a helmet filled with fake vomit onto his head.

As expected, the parrot sketch was a huge hit and a rare time to break character. Both John Cleese and Michael Palin began laughing, and at one point Mr. Cleese muttered an expletive about a British tabloid writer who had ripped an earlier live show.

Some of the best-loved clips from “Monty Python’‍s Flying Circus,” 45 episodes that ran from 1969-74, were sprinkled throughout the three-hour (including a half-hour intermission) program. A soccer match between Greek and German philosophers reminded us how smart and weird these guys can be.

Later, after singing the “Galaxy Song,” there was a filmed criticism of its scientific facts by astrophysicist Brian Cox, who was then run over by Stephen Hawking in his wheelchair.

There were a few updates to the troupe’‍s library of outrageous ethnic and religious stereotypes, including a mention of China owning America’‍s debt. And all those gay jokes? Yeah, dated. Still, cross-dressing judges Mr. Idle and Mr. Palin looked almost as great in slinky lingerie as longtime Python associate Carol Cleveland.

There was an abundance of Broadway-caliber dance numbers that mostly featured Mr. Idle, who of course led the grand finale, a singalong of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”>

Amid the dancing, cannons shooting (well, never mind that), the chorus boys, the fleet of Aussies named Bruce, there was still the sense that like the Norwegian Blue and Mr. Chapman, some part of Monty Python is now deceased.

As Mr. Cleese so forcefully argued to the parrot-shop owner: “The plumage don’‍t enter into it — he‘‍s stone dead!”


Maria Sciullo: msciullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG.

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