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Entries in John Cleese (1)

Friday
Oct162009

World Premiere: Monty Python: Almost The Complete Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut) @ The Ziegfeld - 10.15.9

Photo: Dave CookBy: Matt Fried

The Pythons were back in The Big Apple, and they seemed to bring with them the freezing English weather on the night of the world premiere of their documentary, Monty Python: Almost The Complete Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut).

For the last two decades, the five surviving members have been reticent to commit to a documentary – each opting to continue their solo projects, and leave the past in the past. But thanks to the careful hands of IFC, Cleese, Idle, Palin, Gilliam, and Jones finally present to the world their life story as one of the 20th Century’s most important comedy groups.

I’ll be blunt: the film is great. Rather than submitting the audience to another “Greatest Hits” reel, Almost The Complete Truth… painstakingly covers the group’s rise to success (thanks to a half-assed pitch meeting at The BBC), their superstar crossover (thanks to American audiences), and their decision to break-up when the time was right (thanks to a desire to own a beach house in Ibiza). Along with the method, we get a peek into the madness: The Pythons talk honestly about their approach to comedy, as well indulging in character study. Cleese was The Actor; Idle was The Writer; Palin was The Goody-Two Shoes; Jones was The Anchor; Gilliam was The Maverick; and the late Graham Chapman was The Enigma – beloved by his group for his talent and sense of humor, yet he was often distant with them. Chapman’s alcoholism was never a secret, and – in this film – his colleagues aren’t interested in sermonizing about his demons; they have too much respect for him to make him a martyr.

The evening was capped with a 30 minute Q&A after the film with Monty Python. Just like old times, there was fun, laughter, and the entire theater sang-along to Eric Idle’s unplugged version of “The Galaxy Song”. What became as clear on that stage – as it was in the film – is that the members of Monty Python loved each other, and had a wonderful time mocking The Establishment. Their only agenda was to make you laugh; and when they could do it to one another, that was always a sign of the right direction.

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