A pre-Monty Python British TV special which starred and was written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman, with Michael Palin and two or three other non-Pythons as actors, that will make you laugh and--if you follow the movie'... more »s instructions--highly unpopular, though that is, in fact, the point. There is a lot of great (and truly irritating) material in this movie. Scenes such as the restaurant sketch with John Cleese and Connie Booth; the car sales-man (an early form of the parrot sketch, so I am told), the bored pilots telling their crew not to panic, no the wings aren't on fire, please get out your life-jackets from above your heads, but do not leave your seats. This is really a wonderful collection of sketches and amusing comments and advice on irritation in between. If you want to laugh or to make others mad, buy this classic.« less
Algernon D'Ammassa | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/07/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Even if he is best known as a performer, John Cleese is also one of the most intelligent writers of comedy around. His sketches for Monty Python (often written in collaboration with the mad Graham Chapman) were loopy enough to defuse the anger that simmered underneath, and the FAWLTY TOWERS series are so elegantly plotted and beautifully written. This collection of skits has some hilarious moments, such as when three pilots torture their passengers by pretending something has gone terribly wrong; and Cleese portrays the most overly-solicitous date in the world with excruciating thoroughness. Overall, however, this may disappoint some fans. Many of these skits lack the polish and genius of the Python series. One skit about an obsessive waiter was reworked and vastly improved on the Python series (you can also check it out in their film AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT). It comes off as a collection of out-takes, held together rather thinly with its documentary theme. The anger that is frequently present in Cleese's sketch writing also prevails over the humor throughout, making this a collection heavier on hostility than wit."
Everything I need to know in life, I learned from this movie
Ashley and Mitch | 01/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A pre-Monty Python movie which starred and was written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman, with Michael Palin and two or three other non-pythons as actors, that will make you laugh and - if you follow the movie's instructions - highly unpopular, though that is, in fact, the point. There is a lot of great (and truly irritating) material in this movie. Scenes such as the restourant sketch with John Cleese and Connie Booth; the car sales-man (an early form of the parrot sketch, so I am told), the bored pilots telling their crew not to panic, no the wings aren't on fire, please get out your life-jackets from above your heads, but do not leave your seats; and John Cleese as the tired son home for Easter who just wants to get a drink and get out instead of visiting with his aging mother. This is really a wonderful collection of sketches and amusing comments and advice on irritation in between. If you want to laugh or to make others mad, buy this classic."
Pre-Python, minus the surrealism
Gavin Wilson | 08/31/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
Chronologically, this 1968 show fits somewhere between 'Do Not Adjust Your Set' and 'Monty Python'. Although there are elements of wackiness, this is light-years away from the polished lunacy that was the first Python series. John Cleese is very irritating indeed -- no more so than when he introduces each sketch, reading from a tele-prompter in an echo chamber masquerading as a TV studio.
Half the Python team is here: Cleese, Chapman and Palin, plus Connie Booth pretending to have an English accent. The team clearly learnt by the mistakes they make here. I cannot recall Palin ever again browning up to play an Indian, for example. Every sketch here ends on a punch-line -- one of the rules the Python team was determined to abandon.
The other key player is Tim Brooke-Taylor who, it has to be said, plays a very fine old lady -- certainly up to the standard later set by Terry Jones. It has to be said that Graham Chapman also does not put a single foot wrong, but this film was made before the rest of the Pythons became aware of his drink problem.
There are a number of proto-Python sketches -- the 'Freedom of Speech' sketch, for example, is clearly a practice run for the 'Tell us about your latest film, Sir Edward' sketch in the first Python film. The 'First Letter of the Alphabet' sketch is an ancestor of the 'Spot the Brain Cell' sketch you can hear on 'Monty Python at Drury Lane'. Although most scenes were written by Cleese and Chapman, it's intriguing to see Marty Feldman's name appear on the credits.
But in the main, this is sub-Python humour -- an important historical document for Python completists in the same sense as those unobtainable items such as 'Do Not Adjust Your Set' on DVD, the Bert Fegg book and those three missing episodes of 'Ripping Yarns'. Coming to it new, I didn't find it as funny as many of the other reviewers here. Sorry. "
Mostly killer, some filler, but still worth a watch
Algernon D'Ammassa | 06/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First thing to note about this film: There are some sketches that really just don't matter. I'm not really much of a fan of the pre-Dead Parrot car sketch, and the one about the wife and the joke just really doesn't matter. Other than that, though, most of them are great.Second thing to note about this film: I found it to be an acquired taste. It may take multiple viewings for you to appreciate it. Whether or not you want to take multiple viewings is up to you. It also helps if you have friends who like to quote movie lines...this one has GREAT potential for quoting, and that's really 80% of the value, probably.All that said, there's some hilarious material here. Obviously "Airline Pilots" is amazingly hysterical, and "Silly Job Interview" is not too far behind. But other gems include the son home for Easter ("It's been so long since we last had you home for Easter." "I was home last Easter, mother." "Yes, but that was 12 months ago, dear..."), the dad who irritates his son enough that he gets the TV, John Cleese thinking of every possible way to get out of his date at the restaurant ("You know what I think? I think you're mad because I made you sit there..."), Mrs. Morris on the quiz show ("I'm 103! Today! And I have over 3,000 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren!"), the pepperpots at the cinema, ("Who's that?" "Charlton Hitler...") the incredibly long intro to the talk show, and the closing sketch "Topic", a political discussion show where the host prevents all input from the guest (the pike used at the end is AWESOME! I want one!)I have loaned this to several of my college friends, essentially all of whom have loved it. The filler material (which, because of the length of these sketches, seems endless) is a little bit too much of this video to the extent you'll want to fast-forward at some spots, but what's good is delightful. I definitely recommend it."
A Diamond in the Rough
Ashley and Mitch | Oregon, USA | 08/05/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"We found this video thoroughly enjoyable. We especially like the sketches: "Airline Pilots," "Dirty Chair," "TV Show," "The Joke," and "Pepperpots at the Cinema." That covers about every sketch in the program! This is a must-see for all Monty Python fans, as you will get to see early versions of "Dead Parrot" in the form of the used car salesman sketch. Also an early version of "Dirty Fork." Michael Palin is at his comedic best, as is Graham Chapman. However, we felt that John Cleese's performance left a little to be desired. His writing is as witty and off-the-wall as ever. In short, if you come across this video at a swap meet, or at your local video retailer, don't pass it up. As Michael Palin's character states in the first sketch, "I want to watch THIS!!""