Religious satire is still shaky ground even in modern films, but imagine the protests back in 1979 with Life of Brian. Taking the Bible and satirizing key moments through unknown Brian is brilliance, and in the hands of the Python’s a film classic.
It’s almost impossible to replicate the style the Python’s use for laughs. Literally, there might be 15 minutes of plot development in the entire film. The rest is spent with pointless yet utterly hilarious bickering that goes nowhere. The group’s ability to stretch out a simple gag out into a 10-minute conversation is unbelievable.
Picking the best of these is nearly impossible. What starts with a debate about myrrh as the three wise men mistakenly visit Brian instead of Jesus turns into a hilarious debacle. The Roman wall writing turns into an English lesson any teacher would be proud of, haggling becomes a running gag, and you can’t discuss Life of Brian without mentioning Biggus Dickus which goes without saying.
Obviously, the humor is an acquired taste. It’s perfectly understandable that if any of the gags go awry and ends up being stretched past its prime, you’ll find yourself bored out of your mind. However, if you can appreciate it, this is amongst the best efforts the Python’s ever created, a smidgen behind Holy Grail. It’s a shame modern spoofs like Disaster Movie can’t follow a standard set 30 years ago, and instead rely on, well nothing. Life of Brian is the type of satire those film’s only wish they could be.
Blasphemous or not, Brian is a comedy classic. It’s loaded with laughs, and one of the most twisted musical numbers ever. The quotable lines never end, and this one carries an infinite amount of re-watchability, making it an unquestionable must own.
Sadly, the movie is absolutely butchered in hi-def. While it’s doubtful the source provides much to work with, there’s no excuse for this mess of a transfer. Edge enhancement is significant, marring nearly every shot in the movie. DNR is everywhere, literally wiping the grain out of shots as they move. Detail is non-existent, faces are pasty, and the entire film looks like it’s been run through Vaseline.
Shimmering is noticeable on clothes, artifacting is apparent on multiple occasions, black levels waver, colors are bland outside of a few primaries, and flesh tones are never right. Transfers like this turn people off to the new format quickly. There’s no excuse.
Likewise, the audio is low quality to the point where it affects the viewing experience. Highs are strained, especially the soundtrack. Dialogue is lost to lines that sound like they’re coming from an ancient AM radio. It’s even worse if you’re not used to a British accent. The faux surround effects are apparent, especially during the outer space alien assault (if you’ve never seen the movie, no, it doesn’t make any sense which is why it’s funny).
Surprisingly, there are multiple uncompressed tracks. TrueHD and PCM are your choices (plus a French TrueHD dub). None of them produces great audio, although the PCM mix sounds slightly louder with no real benefit.
Thankfully, the extras make this one worth owning. Two commentaries start things off, with the main cast splitting into two groups. First up are Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and Terry Jones, followed by John Cleese and Michael Palin. If that’s not enough information, then the excellent hour long Story of Brian has you covered. It covers everything from the filming to the controversy that followed.
An audio-only script read through lasts longer than movie itself (near two hours) and is aided by storyboards. Five deleted scenes with an optional commentary run for just over 13 minutes, some funny promotional radio spots are worth a listen, while a photo gallery and trailer collection will satisfy you if the rest wasn’t enough.