Movie Review: Life of Brian (1979)

Synopsis: Born a couple doors over from Jesus on the original Christmas Day, Brian of Nazareth has lived an otherwise uneventful life. When he joins an anti-Roman resistance group in an effort to impress a woman, he becomes a wanted criminal and, in an attempt to escape capture, is accidentally mistaken for the Messiah.

Who's in it? The movie stars John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Carol Cleveland.


Review: I have to confess, as much as I like classic films, I think the only Monty Python film I had ever seen prior to yesterday was Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In fact, the only reason I wound up watching this film was I had the afternoon off, wasn't feeling the greatest (bad cold) and ended up crashing on the couch for a while.

As a result of that, I honestly wasn't really sure what to expect from this movie. Unfortunately, after seeing it for the first time, I have to be honest and say I was a bit underwhelmed.

I think my biggest problem with this movie is, while it was apparently banned in several countries for its religious satire, I wasn't convinced it really went far enough. Yes, Brian (Chapman) ultimately gains followers by quoting what he heard from Jesus (Kenneth Colley) and that does lead to some interesting moments. I just think it could have done more.

For example, Brian was born next door to Jesus on the exact same day. But, other than listening to the latter, from a distance, during the Sermon on the Mount, they have absolutely nothing to do with each other. That was a missed opportunity in my book because, had they been best friends since they were kids, it would have put Brian's struggles into a better context. Not to mention it's hardly a satire if the man who started Christianity is reduced to a couple cameo appearances.

In fact, as I watched this movie, I found myself comparing it to Mel Brooks' History of the World: Part I, which came out a couple years later. Of the two movies, I think Brooks' film is considerably better, especially when it comes to portraying religious figures in a humorous fashion and I found myself wishing I was watching that movie again instead of this one.

Final Opinion: There are some funny moments in this film, especially when Brian is trying to vandalize a wall early on. But, compared to Monty Python and the Holy Grail and other religious satire films, I thought this one fell a bit short.

My Grade: C

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