If Monty Python were the comedic Beatles then Michael Palin would be Paul McCartney. Pleasant, easy going and conciliatory, he took the circuitous route from mould-breaking, even at times subversive writer to everyone's favourite travel companion and the dreaded National Treasure status which I like to think he would disown. As is typical of this type of show, no one here is going to speak ill of our Michael, although a few gently sarcastic jibes from John Cleese make the cut.
Palin himself is our genial host as he takes us back to his beginnings relating his family upbringing, school days and early love of "The Goons" which inspired his penchant for comedy. Later at Cambridge he started writing comedy sketches in earnest and in partnership with lifelong friend Terry Jones, broke into and then out of provincial television before falling in with his fellow Pythons in 1969 to change comedy as we know it.
I enjoyed the clips of some of Palin's earliest TV moments especially his "History Of Britain" with a hilarious skit of him as a victorious King Richard celebrating winning a battle football-style in a dressing room bath, plus there are plenty of funny clips from Python itself (but not my favourite "Blackmail" sketch!) and the films (although "The Meaning Of Life" doesn't get a look in). I also loved his "Ripping Yarns" Boys Own Adventure spoof TV series whiche co-wrote with Jones and starred in every week as a different main character.
I personally think he later overdid the travel guide part, thinking he just seems to be the kind of guy who doesn't turn anything down and also wouldn't say straight acting was his forte either despite the usual plethora of eulogies and bouquets from fellow actors as he essays some significant parts for writers like Armando Ianucci and Alan Bleasdale.
Sorry Mike, but rather like Paul McCartney's attempts at classical music, Bob Dylan at art or Woody Allen at serious cinema (controversial!), these aren't what you'll be best remembered for. Still, if Palin likes to think of himself as a Renaissance man, that's up to him. Me, I'll stick to him sticking to what he does best which is small and big-screen comedy because he's really very good at it and if he's done all that he's achieved and stayed a good guy in the process as this film confidently asserts, fair play to him.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this