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DVD Review

DVD cover

Not the Messiah
(He's a Very Naughty Boy)


Starring: Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Carol Cleveland and Neil Innes
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 12
Available 14 June 2010

For reasons that no one is prepared to address, the Monty Python cannon is treated as if it pure comedy gold - a flawless collection of satire and spoof, slapstick and visual invention: beyond criticism because it is just so f*cking perfect. It’s not - much of it is total crap. For every Parrot Sketch we get The Golden Age of Ballooning and yet another dire spoof of a TV talk show.

Frankly, much of the TV series is utter pants - devoid of jokes, sexist and all pathetically public school. Yes, there are good bits but on the whole the Python legacy is over-hyped twaddle. Except The Life of Brian - which just happens to be very good indeed.

Sadly, turning it into a Handel-spoofing oratorio adds nothing. Quite the reverse - it ruins the bloody thing. It kills it stone dead. Deader than a dead parrot. But that’s what this DVD is all about - capturing the first performance of the oratorio, in all it’s pointlessness.

I watched through my fingers it was so embarrassing. I put on the kettle and checked emails during some bits. I sat slack-jaws during a song about sheep and generally failed to understand why the whole sorry mess was ever made. Bad song followed bad song.

If Python stood for anything it was the pretence of being antiestablishment - it supposedly pocked fun at pomposity and fake grandeur. And yet here we have Brian turned into middle-brow light opera, devoid of jokes and interestingly devoid of John Cleese. He clearly saw something the other Pythons - all assembled here - failed to grasp: Not the Messiah is a turkey and is exactly the thing that Python once pretended to hate.

Worse still, Eric Idle - the man behind the venture - seems to have hijacked the whole sorry mess and turned it into some sort of ego-massage. The other Pythons are relegated to bit players while Eric strides magnificent over the entire production.

Well, not quite because there’s nothing magnificent here, just a sorry collection of limp comedy songs, old gags and misplaced self-belief. This isn’t funny and what good’s a joke that doesn’t make you laugh?

Of course Python fans won’t notice it’s rubbish because they don’t criticise anything under the Python brand. For them it’s all good. So if you fall into those ranks then this DVD is “brilliant” including the “fantastic” extras. If, however, you have any vestige of critical ability then you’ll find Not the Messiah to be a pointless waste of time.


Anthony Clark

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