I Don’t Want to Play, I Just Want to Bang on the Coconuts All Day – A Review of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)

by Cesidia on February 1, 2012

thumbnailMonty Python and the Holy Grail. Everyone knows this classic twist of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, complete with British humor, French accents and abrupt endings. I don’t remember when it was that I first watched this movie but I remember falling in love with it. I was always a big fan of comedies and this one definitely hit the spot. I mean how many movies can say that they found a way to make the opening credits hilarious? Reading all about Moose and what not. You can’t help but laugh at how absurd it is. But hey, that’s British humor for you. It’s so dumb it’s funny.

And after you think they can’t do anything more outrageous they do. The movie starts but it’s not about the Holy Grail. About 30 seconds into this film they stop it and apologize for putting in the wrong movie. After a quick switch we are on to the feature film. The scene opens with King Arthur and the sound of his horse. As he enters the picture though we see that there is in fact no horse. However his servant is banging two coconuts together. This is by far one of my favorite parts of this movie. It had never really occurred to me that the sounds of coconuts being banged together sounded eerily similar to hooves galloping.

But that is only the beginning the rest of this movie is filled with just as funny, simple lines and ploys. One of my favorite scenes is the fight with the black knight. What is funnier than a knight losing 4 limbs of his body and still asking for more? It makes no sense whatsoever but it still makes you laugh. It is also incredibly fake; I mean does anyone know whose blood is that red? Not to mention King Arthur barely strikes him; it seems as though his arms are just falling off by the slightest touch. And he still doesn’t give up. Once Arthur has chopped off both his arms he just starts kicking him instead. This scene is random and weird, yet it is absolutely brilliant. It captivates the audience and gives them a good laugh.

One of the other great scenes is just a quick one but nonetheless important to mention. It is one of my personal favorites. The scene I am referring to of course is the one with the monks who recite some sort of Latin and then hit themselves in the head with wooden boards. This is also random and weird but that’s what makes it funny. It is quite unexpected and the scene only consists of them hitting themselves really. Also being the music nerd I am, I noticed that there are some nice harmonies going on in their chant.

The episode with the killer rabbit is another scene worth highlighting. Who knew a rabbit could be that deadly? And the whole part of the holy hand grenade complete with scripture reading is funny too.

Another Monk: “And St Attila raised the hand grenade up on high saying ‘O Lord, bless this Thy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy'”

And then they have to count to three, without saying two, four or five. However Arthur says One, Two, Five. Thankfully somewhere was there to tell him to say three. He says the last number and throws it over to the rabbit who is immediately blown up. Never thought you’d see a rabbit be defeated by a holy hand grenade did you?

The fun does not stop however. The next task the knights must complete is to cross a bridge by answering three questions correctly. Some make it through with ease, some forget their favorite color and meet their death but King Arthur wins this game. After being asked what the velocity of a swallow is Arthur refers back to the beginning of the movie where two knights are arguing about swallows carrying coconuts and asks if it is a European or African swallow. He defeats the bridge keeper, unable to answer the question and meets his death, and crosses the bridge.

The movie is stopped short though, by an ongoing story within the story. A famous historian was brutally murdered and his wife was seeking his murderers. Right as the British are going to attack the French castle they are stopped by a police car and the knights are all arrested. And the movie ends there.

So next time you’re looking for a good, playful comedy why not watch some Monty Python? I would have to put this up there with some of the greatest comedic movies of all time including most of Mel Brooks’ movies. It’s a little bit different type of comedy but nonetheless good.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: