Film #328: NOT THE MESSIAH (HE'S A VERY NAUGHTY BOY)
Not The Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy)
2 out of 5 stars
Jeez… Remember when you first saw Monty Python and they were cutting edge and bawdy? They were like some very naughty secret you shared with a select few others who were in the know. You’d watch the episodes and laugh. You’d buy their records and memorize them word for word. You’d go out and see the films and rejoice in the opportunity to turn your friends on to their uncivilized (but hilarious) brand of comedy. Yeah, well… that was 40 years ago. Now, we get this - NOT THE MESSIAH - which is, according to Eric Idle, a riff on Handel’s Messiah and an interpretation of LIFE OF BRIAN. What it is though is a lackluster “opera” told in a way that’s safe enough for your grandmother to see and not leave offended. Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, and Carol Cleveland breeze in and out of the performance as more of a favor to Idle than to offer any real input because, make no mistake, this is Eric Idle’s show. NOT THE MESSIAH is at its core and over-blown ego piece by Idle with a 120 piece orchestra and a 140 voice choir singing songs that would NEVER have made it into the original series or films. But, since Idle is calling they shots, we get half-formed concepts stretched out into an ungodly length with little to no punch line. In the film’s 90 minute run time I think I may have smiled once or twice. My question is… when did Alternative Comedy such as Python get co-opted and emasculated into a form church groups could enjoy? In the end, NOT THE MESSIAH is an unwieldy bludgeon that never quite hits it comedic mark not matter how hard Idle and others swing it. The look of the film is crisp and clear, but… if that’s the best that can be said about it, then the project fails as a film and as a document of the event.