And Now for Something Completely Different [1971]

Monty Python's first feature is essentially a reworking of their best skits from the first two seasons of their cult TV series Monty Python's Flying Circus, shot on film outside the usual studio sets (Nudge Nudge, for example, is set in a tavern filled with passersby). As the TV series was as yet unseen in the U.S. at the time of this feature, And Now for Something Completely Different became for many Americans their first taste of the Pythons' brand of surreal, silly humor and remains a fond favorite. The writing and performances are fine and the film is packed with some of their best bits: How to Avoid Being Seen, Hell's Grannies, Blackmail, The Lumberjack Song, and The Upper Class Twit of the Year, among others. Many of the sketches have been shortened, however, and the loss of the overbright video sheen (the film has a muddy, dull look to it) and the invigorating presence of a live audience leaves the film sluggish at times. They're still feeling out the possibilities of the feature-length, which they finally conquer with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, still their finest hour and a half. --Sean Axmaker

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