Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
Terry Jones’s comedy shows a series of sketches examining mankind's secrets and taboos through the trials of life from conception to death. Starring John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Terry Jones.
The Monty Python team are here again for their fourth feature film and going back to the sketch format that they used for their first movie ‘And Now for Something Completely Different’.
However, although I consider The Meaning of Life to not be the funniest film that the group did, it’s still a very respectable watch nonetheless.
The phases of life are told through a number of sketches and songs by the British comedy group. The seven stages of life cover birth, growing up, war, middle age, organ transplants, old age and death.
But not all stages are outstanding: "Part I: The Miracle of Birth" is from the viewpoint of an ignored woman ready to give birth, and of a Roman Catholic couple with a lot of kids, and "Part VII: Death" includes a funeral and heaven. In addition to those are three unconnected sketches.
Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin all play multiple parts in the movie and they all give good and comic performances in their respective roles, entertaining us in their own unique way, but not without taking a risk at the same time, considering some of the subjects that are being tackled.
The direction from Jones is good because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong and comical effect throughout, while also keeping a funny but sometimes unpleasant atmosphere happening as well.
The script is written to a decent standard by the Monty Python team as they make the movie good to follow. However, although there is a narrative happening, it’s not as funny as the other entries they have done, most notably Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Life of Brian, the former I consider to be one of the funniest movies to have been released in 1975.
The camera stands out best in terms of the technical aspects, because it makes good use of the locations and also captures the funny moments well, which get the edge-of-the-seat status.
Overall, it isn’t as funny as their other comedies, but The Meaning of Life is an enjoyable but risqué film, thanks to the good performances, direction, narrative and humour on offer.