Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a pretty unassailable comedy classic. It’s one of the most oft-quoted and joke-dense comedies of all time, and a key milestone in the careers of both the Monty Python troupe and co-director Terry Gilliam. And now Deadline reports it’s being remade, kinda, via a screen adaptation of its own Broadway adaptation Spamalot.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Spamalot, it’s a musical written by Eric Idle and longtime Python collaborator John Du Prez that ran on Broadway for over 1500 performances, grossing over $175 million. It won three Tony awards, including best Musical; its cast recording won a Grammy; productions continue to sell out around the world. It’s a pretty fun show, combining the story and songs from the original film with new material and a few nods to other Python productions.
Idle’s writing the screenplay for the film version, with Casey Nicholaw tapped to make his screen directing debut after choreographing the original production, winning a Tony for directing The Book of Mormon, and directing current Broadway hit Mean Girls. That could make for a good movie! Fox sure thinks so - they’ve fast-tracked it to shoot next spring, with casting going on right now. Get your best Knights of Ni impressions on, all you triple threats out there.
Bringing Holy Grail back to screen is an odd proposition, though. The closest recent comparison is probably Hairspray, which went from a John Waters film to a Broadway musical to a pretty decent movie musical. But Hairspray didn’t have nearly the iconic status Holy Grail holds - let alone a cast as widely beloved as the Python troupe (as much as I love Divine). That Spamalot is a full-blown musical will help, as it won’t be a straight-up remake, but this is sacred territory amongst a certain set of comedy geeks.
Fan acceptance is likely to hinge on the casting here. It’s entirely possible that Idle or other original Pythons might make cameo appearances, despite making a big exit a few years ago with a set of live reunion shows. But like it or not, there’ll be an all-new cast filling some pretty big shoes - shoes that will feel bigger on screen, the original home of Monty Python, than they do in the alternate medium of stage.
Are you into this? I’m tentatively in favour, largely because the musical’s different enough that it won’t be a total retread. Will Spamalot set up the possibility of a screen adaptation of the Not The Messiah oratorio Idle and Du Prez wrote a few years back? Will we be able to find classic Monty Python jokes funny with slightly different comic timing and delivery? Sound off in the comments.