Monty Python's 40th anniversary
What a new documentary reveals about the serious work of making people laugh
Monty Python was "arguably the most adored comedy team in the Western Hemisphere," said Zach Oat in Television Without Pity. So, in honor of the 40th anniversary of their classic TV show Monty Python's Flying Circus, IFC is showing Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) (watch a preview), a six-part documentary, which airs every night this week through Friday. This "breathtakingly exhaustive analysis" is "the end-all-be-all of Python," and it's "pretty damn funny, thanks to great clips and the still-active humor glands of the interviewees."
This "six-hour extravaganza" is a reminder that Monty Python made fun of "anything and everything reeking of authority," said Neal Justin in Minneapolis Star Tribune. In fact, "if the six members of the group had practiced their silly skills a few decades later and across the pond, they'd probably be living in South Park." But this documentary also delves into the troupe's internal conflicts, and "continually reminds us that grand silliness is serious business."
That's the most disappointing part of Monty Python: Almost the Truth, said Alan Sepinwall in the Newark, N.J.,Star-Ledger. "It's like watching a film about the Beatles and getting bummed out when Paul and John start fighting as they make Let It Be." But the wounds seem to be healed: All six members of the group appear onscreen—including John Cleese, Michael Palin, and even the late Graham Chapman—and they "derive obvious pleasure from busting each other's chops."