As gleefully silly yet wickedly smart as the beloved British comedy troupe and their 1975 cinematic savaging of the Arthurian legend that inspired it, this adaptation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail by MP's Eric Idle and longtime musical co-conspirator John Du Prez has much more on its feverish agenda than merely trashing King Arthur and firmly upending his Round Table.
The film's plot remains largely intact, but its core songs ("Knights of the Round Table," "Brave Sir Robin") and comic thrust have been both expanded and satirically redirected, a musical comedy shotgun that takes dizzy aim at pop culture in general, and Broadway in particular. After typically Pythonesque distractions that somehow find us in "Finland..," stars David Hyde-Pierce, Tim Curry, Hank Azaria and company get busy conjuring the Lady of the Lake with the unlikely help of "Laker Girls..," while cast members Sara Ramirez and Christopher Sieber deliciously skewer contemporary Broadway cliches via the loopy showstopper "The Song That Goes Like This," a tune whose reprise also deliciously sends up every overwrought stage diva from Merman to Minelli. Idle has shrewdly ripped off--well, interpolated--Life of Brian's "Always Look On the Bright Side" for the new show, and even a snatch of "The Lumberjack Song" in "He Is Not Dead Yet." "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" reveals the frankly Semitic secret to stage success, and the French get can-canned on "Run Away!"
Meanwhile, our bravest knight is de-closeted on the Manilow-mauling "His Name is Lancelot" before the familiar sound of clomping coconut shells brings down the curtain on the season's goofiest if satirically dead-on comic delight. --Jerry McCulley