Saturday, December 29, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Time Bandits (1981) ***½

PG, 116 min.
Director: Terry Gilliam
Writers: Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam
Starring: Craig Warnock, David Rappaport, Kenny Baker, Malcolm Dixon, Mike Edmonds, Jack Purvis, Tiny Ross, David Warner, David Daker, Shelia Fearn, Jim Broadbent, Michael Palin, Shelley Duvall, Sean Connery, Ian Holm, John Cleese, Peter Vaughan, Katherine Helmond, Ralph Richardson

“I have a hard time with British humor.” — The Wife, while introducing our children to “Time Bandits”.

Not that she isn’t a fan of the film. She was just as excited as the kids about it, but British humor does run a little dry. The kids didn’t seem to care. They loved this adventure about a boy falling in with a time traveling band of dwarf thieves. The film features a who’s who of British comedians from the 70s; many of whom were frequently featured on the BBC sketch comedy show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”.

Directed by Terry Gilliam, the only American of the Monty Python crew, the film was a bit of a crossover cult hit for British comedy. While Monty Pythons films had appealed to adults in a cult status, this one actually appealed to children and created a generation of American converts to a British sense of adventure and humor. It was also a great feature for the long Hollywood tradition of dwarf actors, who had much work in the business of making film, but were rarely featured players. My boys didn’t seem as impressed as I felt they should be that Kenny Baker, the guy who played Fidgit, also played R2D2 in “Star Wars”.

My wife remembered impressions of the movie from her childhood, but some of it came as a shock to her, especially the ending. The ending of the film has always been fresh in my mind, so I leaned over to her afterward and said, “Kind of makes you think that the British have more issues with their parents than Americans do.” Or perhaps they’re just more willing to let things go.

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