They offer us the weirdest, oddest, and downright hilarious revisionist parody of King Arthur’s legend. I use the term plot loosely because The Holy Grail follows no strict set of parameters or plot points. The quest for the Grail by Arthur and his right-hand man Patsy is purely an excuse for gag upon gag upon gag. Even while he recruits his Round Table, the fun is not in the completion of the quest, but the detours the plot takes for the sake of a laugh. And it goes all over the place. Tangents abound and the story jumps back and forth, oftentimes for no good reason. The film has the oddest of openings (involving llamas) and it ends just us weirdly as it began with the arrival of the police. Don’t question it. Just enjoy.
When is the optimal time to watch The Holy Grail you ask? The real answer is anytime, but it reaches its maximum potential when you watch with others late at night in a giddy delirium. Let the comic absurdity of it all carry you off into the Monty Python world. The first time watching it you might be a little befuddled, but the beauty is that it gets better nearly every time. Anachronisms become your friend, quotability skyrockets, and there is a kind of joy that surfaces from each vignette of comedic madness.
It works so well because the ensemble is so wacky and fun with no one individual completely outshining the others. They are never relegated to a certain role but instead are given free reign to show off their skills in many zany incarnations. Thus, the actor playing a certain character becomes less important and the comedy that is found in this or that role takes precedence.
I never have been too keen about living in the Middle Ages, and after watching The Holy Grail I… definitely would not want to live in the Middle Ages. It’s certainly good for a few laughs, though. Ni! Ni! Ni!