It Came From the ’80s: Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983)

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life Poster

by Sheri White

During my Senior year of high school, I was seeing someone named Kevin (not the Kevin from Friday the 13th) who had gone to Marine Corps boot camp after Christmas.  I missed him, and hated not having a date on the weekends, but hey – I was dating a Marine.  That was pretty cool at the time.

However, I did have a big crush on my friend Denise’s boyfriend – his name was Rick.  He was SO CUTE and had a great smile.  We became fast friends and were pretty close.  It was agonizing, let me tell you.  And when he and Denise broke up, I was dying.  I’d never cheat on Kevin, especially since he was roughing it through boot, so I was the epitome of unrequited love.

One night Rick and I decided to go to a movie.  I didn’t want to see a love story while in that situation, so we went to see Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.  I had seen snippets of Monty Python’s Flying Circus when I was a kid, but never understood what was going on.  So I was completely unprepared for this movie.  It seems like I was unprepared for every movie I saw with a guy when I was a teenager!

The movie started off with a bang and never let up.  Remember that I was going to an all-girls’ Catholic school.  Plus my mom was pretty religious.  I wasn’t quite sheltered, but I was somewhat innocent despite having fun at parties and such.  I wasn’t that religious myself, but I could still be a little WTF when something was said against the Catholic religion.  So, of course, I was a little “I can’t believe they actually did that!” when they showed the huge Catholic family living in a tiny shack, and the mom has a baby drop from right between her legs.  Across the street a couple starts talking about sex and how the Catholics don’t believe in birth control, because to them “Every Sperm is Sacred.” This was a little song and dance routine that was actually pretty hilarious.  Nothing too embarrassing.

However, as the movie went on, things got worse.  John Cleese played a professor at a boys’ school teaching the boys about sex ed.  Not only did he Mr. Creosotedescribe the process in GREAT DETAIL, he and his wife demonstrated the act in front of the class.  Now things were getting a little uncomfortable for me.  At one point, naked girls were running in slow motion with their breasts bobbing up and down dramatically.  I do remember Rick laughing at that, and I responded oh-so-wittily that it would be painful to run naked if you’re a girl.  God.

Then came Mr. Creosote.  If you have not seen this movie, DO NOT eat beforehand.  Mr. Creosote is a gigantic man who dines at a restaurant, but needs to clear out some room before he can eat.  Bad.  So bad.  But funny as hell.  My brother sent me a link to this scene on Youtube recently, and I just couldn’t watch it.

After I thought we had seen and heard all the embarrassing stuff the movie could possibly hold, “Isn’t it Awfully Nice to Have a Penis” was sung, making me want to sink down in my seat.

I don’t know how Rick was feeling, and after the movie was over, I was very careful NOT to discuss what we had just seen.  What I really wanted to discuss was the crush I had on him, but I wasn’t (and still am not) confrontational.  And I couldn’t break up with Kevin while he was in basic, right?

I didn’t.  After discovering that Rick liked me as well, I broke up with Kevin in a letter and sent it to his TDY after he graduated.  Yes, it was mean.  And I got what I deserved when Rick showed up with another girl to a party we both went to because he didn’t know I was going to break up with Kevin.  Ouch.  Teenage drama at its finest.

Rick and I stayed together about a year after we got everything straightened out.  I don’t even remember why we broke up, but we had fun for that year.  And saw movies that didn’t make me cringe in my seat (like Beverly Hills Cop – at a DRIVE-IN – you don’t see those anymore.)  But I never did find out what he thought about The Meaning of Life.  For me, it’s now a fun memory, and I hope it is for him, too.

[Editor’s Note: A quick point about Sheri’s comment that “you don’t see those anymore” in regards to drive-in movie theaters. I’m thankful and proud to brag say that we have one in our town that we visit it whenever we can. And yes, I do realize it may be the last American drive-in, or one of ‘em anyway, but we’ve got it!]

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About Joel Robertson

I'm the father of three boys and married to my high school sweetheart. I'm a former public school teacher (and still recovering from PTSD), reformed filmmaker, podcaster, writer, and fan of all things movie related.

9 comments to It Came From the ’80s: Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983)

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jason Grooms and Darrell Taylor, Joel G. Robertson. Joel G. Robertson said: "It Came from the 80s: Monty Python's The Meaning of Life," a new essay from @sheriw1965! http://bit.ly/gRtjCR [...]

  • Shannon

    Re: Drive-ins— Down here where I live in Alabama, we have 3 small drive-ins within 30 minutes!

    I first watched this movie when I was 16, and this movie was hard for me to watch as well. It has great moments, but several times, I just can’t watch. I am a Python fan, but in this movie, they tried to cram the Best of the Worst. I love some of the skits, and have come to appreciate it more with time, but Mr. Creosote is impossible for me to take.

  • Sheri ~

    This was a wonderful look into your past and your character. Your writing voice is magnificent when you are just yourself. It was a pleasure to read.

    I loved the drive-ins. Some of my best and worst memories came there. This movie was funny for what it was. I’ve always been a fan of Monty Python though. My kids and I watch The Quest for the Holy Grail all the time.

    There is a drive-in somewhere nearby. At least, that is the rumor. I would love to take my wife there. Thank you for a great trip into your past. It certainly was vivid. If you write like this in a novel, you will do great!

    Draven Ames

  • Thanks for sharing Sheri. I love that the drive-in has been the most commented part of the post. I’ve wanted to take my kids to the drive-in for the past two summers. They are still a bit young, so either it’s an inappropriate movie or starts too late. Of course, what is classified as inappropriate today would have been rated G back in the 80′s.

    • Dumbricht– We took our three sons (ages 4 and under) to our local ozoner to see Toy Story 3. I’m not sure whether it was the movie, or the thrill of watching a movie while sitting in the car, but they had a blast. We’re really looking forward to taking them back again and I highly recommend it if you get the opportunity. It’s the kind of things memories are made of! :)

  • Thank you all for the wonderful compliments. I’m having a lot of fun writing these essays, and Joel is great to work with. We do have a drive-in about an hour away from here, and my kids and I went once (to see Barnyard (was that the name?) – fun place to go, crappy movie). It is sad that most of the drive-ins are gone.

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