Every time I rewatch Monty Python and the Holy Grail, or for that matter anything by Monty Python, I have a bad habit of assuming it won’t be as good as I remember. But there’s a reason this movie has endured across generations: It’s the pinnacle of smart-stupid comedy.
You can watch Holy Grail for the (brilliant and silly) gags, which I did many times as a kid: “How do you know she is a witch?”; “You must bring us a shrubbery!”; “Answer me these questions three…”
But on repeat viewings, it really sinks in how anarchically creative this movie is. From the opening credits onward, we’re told not to trust any of our instincts about how the movie will play out, and the Pythons gleefully smash genres and mediums together: Adventure and musical, animation and live-action.
As regular readers of this newsletter will know, I also love self-serious characters dropped into ridiculous circumstances, and the late Graham Chapman is the MVP of this movie. His haughty, constantly-aggrieved King Arthur implicitly skewers people who seek political power, and yet he’s still a likable protagonist.