"Jabberwocky," a mirthless composite spoof of medieval times and monster movies, was hatched by Terry Gilliam of the Monty Python team soon Python and the Holy Grail." Since I happened to get a look at "Jabberwocky" in script form. I can testify to the fact that the finished film, now at the Duppont Circles lives down to expectations, with a vengeance.
What seemed obvious before the picture was shot is now evident on the screen. The last thing anyone connected with "Holy Grail" needed to do was crack another joke about the Middle Ages. If that movie accomplished anything, it exhausted the Middle Ages as a source of gratuitous and anachronistic humor for at least a generation. "Jabberwocky" is an elaborate exercise in redundancy. [TEXT OMMITED FROM SOURCES]
"Holy Grail" was frequently a sophomoric pain, but it had its daffy moments, the participation of the full Python troupe and a certain novelty interest. "Jabberwocky" is undermanned as well as stale. The lead, a yokel named Dennis, is portrayed by Michael Palin, and Gilliam and Terry Jones appear in brief supporting roles, but that leaves half the troupe inadequately employed while the other half is nowhere in sight.
The gags, visual and verbal, remain stubbornly feeble. Gilliam is fond of shock effects that have a curious way of coming as no surprise at all. For example, someone asks Dennis about the health of his father, the village cooper; Dennis replies, "Never better," and we see his father keel overfrom a seizure. Later, it seems equally automatic when a monarch promises his daugther occupancy of the west tower of the castle after she marries and a stroke of lightning destroys the tower.
Despite the overwhelming lack of spontaneity, these wheezes are less tiresome than the repetitive array of jokes inspired by bare buttock, urination and amputation. Gilliam must also have some incurable thing about "The Seventh Seal," because he brings back a procession of flesh-scourging penitents whose antics were the occassion for identical sick-joking in "Holy Grail." How many times must he repeat these gags before he pushes on to a fresher source of ridicule?
There's startling disparity between the content and look of lessly motley, but the photograph, decor, costuming and make-up reflect almost fussy workmanship. An extraordinary amount of skill has been devoted to pictorial details, including the construction of the dreaded monster of the title, visualized as a kind of moth-eaten Godzilla. In this context such skill is utterly superfluous. Maybe Gilliaj really aspires to direct conventional, handsone, historical spectacles.In one respect he has used this project to show his stuff, but it has ceased to be funny stuff.