(Almost) The Truth: The Lawyer's Cut (DVD)
Eagle Rock, 2009
REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/22/2009
(Almost) The Truth presents an intriguing, in-depth documentary about the groundbreaking British comedy troupe Monty Python. Encompassing three DVDs and over seven hours, it is joyously thorough and exhaustive. Composed largely of original interviews and rare behind-the-scenes footage, this DVD comprises material that has never been seen before. Even the behind the scenes footage comes largely from the Pythons' private collections and has never seen the light of day. The look inside the workings of Python through extensive interviews and candid footage of them on the sets of all three of their films are worth the price of admission alone.
The documentary is presented chronologically in six parts, beginning with a biographical sketch of each of the Pythons. Listening to them reminisce about each other is almost as funny as their sketches. It’s apparent that they all exist in a balance of great admiration and snickering one-upmanship. Get any two together, and apparently they’ll entertain you by ripping on the others (in a very good-natured way). John Cleese seems to get the brunt of it with his reputation for being a bit of stiff shirt, but he joins in, too (in one scene with a hilarious impersonation of Terry Jones), and in the end, all the jabs are delivered with a great deal of affection and respect. This look inside the personalities is quite eye-opening. One of my favorite segments is the six members each recalling their childhood. Eric Idle’s memories of a rigid English boarding school are both amusing and appalling.
One of the highlights of the documentary is a look at British television and radio from the ‘50s and ‘60s, and how they influenced not just the Pythons, but the entire spectrum of comedy. I came away with one overarching realization: pretty much everything you laugh at today on TV or in movies owes a debt to the Pythons – The Simpsons, Seinfeld, The Office, South Park, the films of Judd Apatow…all these are built on direct derivations of the Pythons’ absurd genius. Saturday Night Live owes its entire 30+ year run to the success of Monty Python.
Accompanying the documentary are several bonus goodies, including a sort of greatest hits selection of the Pythons’ most beloved skits. Watching the archival footage and the excellent interviews, I laughed almost as much as I do at one of their shows or films. Whatever their muse is that makes them so funny, it’s deeply ingrained in them and even watching them idly chat is often hilarious. Whether you’re a diehard fan or just curious, the genius and madness of Monty Python is presented here in all its glory.