"I have a very good friend in Rome named Biggus Dickus."
If Kevin Smith and Miramax wanted to know how to market a biblical satire, they could have sought advice from the fine folks at Monty Python.Back in 1978, the British-based comedy troupe put together a riotous spoof of Old Jerusalem life, and incited mass controversy and huge anti-Python protests, primarily in the southern United States. Some cities down there even banned "Brian" from their theaters. Yup, them Southerners take their God-fearing a bit too seriously, something I'm not particularly proud of. Though Kevin Smith's "Dogma" came and went without much of a protest. Perhaps the Bible-beaters finally got it through their heads that old Hollywood adage of "any publicity is good publicity".
But back to the Python film. Brian (Graham Chapman) is a young man born and raised around the same time as Jesus Christ, in roughly the same part of Judea. Here the life of Christ isn't spoofed; Big J's actions only parallel those of Brian's, which is an entirely different plot. Brian and his mother (Terry Jones) attend Jesus's "Beatitudes" sermon, but get distracted by two bickering audience members. Brian falls in with a local gang (The People's Judean Front - no, the Judean People's Front), vandalizes Roman buildings, and falls haplessly into the prophecy spotlight while eluding authorities.
Brian's followers instantly enshrine anything that has to do with him, including gourds and sandals. Brian confronts Pontius Pilate (Michael Palin), who sports an Elmer Fudd lisp. Brian gets momentarily kidnapped by space aliens in a bit to wedge in some Terry Gilliam animation. And ultimately, he gets crucified (about a block away from Jesus's crucifixion) at the end, when a musical number breaks out, led by Eric Idle.
This film is a timeless, hilarious exercise in exposing the shallowness of organized religion and overly blind faith. The Python crew and assorted guest stars (including a blink-and-you-miss-him appearance by George Harrison) turn in magnificent performances.If your personal faith can take a little joke (and if you ever wanted to see Graham Chapman's penis), then Life of Brian will entertain. But if you get nervous or offended by lines such as "How shall we fuck off, O Lord?", then don't bother.