Director: Terry Gilliam
Star: Michael Palin
Year Made: 1977
Running Time: 1 Hour, 45 five minutes
Jabberwocky is the directorial debut of ex-Monty Python member and probable Indian curse victim (serious, just look up how many problems this guy has when making films) Terry Gilliam. The film is about the misadventures of young peasant Dennis Cooper (Michael Palin) as he seeks his fortune in a land an unspecified medieval land being plagued by a huge monster. In order to woo the heart of the huge (and hugely unpleasant) fish merchant’s daughter, he heads to the city only to bumble his way into a tournament of champions and then a monster hunt. Over the course of his, adventure Dennis comes across crazed wanders, angry innkeepers, cross-dressing nuns, homicidal knights and an airhead princess.
While this isn’t technically a Monty Python movie (only half the troop worked on it) it still feels like one. All the Python elements are here: Deliberate anachronisms (Denis acts like an efficiency-obsessed 20’Th century entrepreneur), Slapstick and over the top gore (Dennis is kicked around like a football, and spectators at a joust end up soaked in blood) and humor blacker that everyone who boycotted the Oscars (after Dennis says his father is fine, we smash cut to his father having a heart attack). It has gotten somewhat of a bad reputation over the years, due to it coming out just a few years before “Monty Python’s Holy Grail”. Still, if I’m being honest I liked Jabberwocky just a little bit more than “Holy Grail”, even though it’s not nearly as quotable.
In Typical Gilliam fashion, the cinematography and camerawork are excellent. When out in the wood’s, even the most hideous shut in will appreciate the beauty of the English countryside. This is of course deliberately contrasted with the horrible squalor of the city and the ugly faces of the peasants and townsfolk. There’s not much to complain about except that Jabberwocky’s shtick, can get a little repetitive at times. Also, the characters are somewhat shallow, but I was ok with this, as most of the characters exist to be living punch lines. Speaking of characters, Dennis himself never really succeeds or fails due to his own skills it’s mainly due to circumstance, but since he’s a chump it’s fitting. If you’re looking for a slow-paced movie, look elsewhere because despite having a 105 minute run time, Jabberwocky almost never slows down. The movies pace is relentless and its gags come fast and frequent. For me, the fun part was seeing what absurd thing would happen next and not necessarily the characters themselves. If you enjoy the Pythons twisted sense of humor you’ll have a blast with Jabberwocky.
Did I like the movie: Yes
Would I watch it again: Yes
Would I buy it: Yes
What’s keeping you off the Street: The Sidewalk