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Zadzooks: Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days review (iPad)

- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2012

England's legendary comedy troupe extends its reach to diehard fans of the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" with a slick interactive app built for Apple's multimedia tablet.

After an introduction from the renowned John Cleese — dripping with his vintage variety of droll (it's taken him decades to forget the whole rotten experience) and worth at least 95 cents of the 5 bucks — fans dive into Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days (Melcher Media, reviewed on iPad 2, rated 9+, $4.99), a multimedia compendium tied to each of the 28 days it took to shoot the movie.

Delivered as the expertly named Day by Day option (viewers also can peruse according to key scenes in the movie), the virtual book provides audio, text, video and imagery snagged from the production vaults.

For example, Day 5 (May 4, 1974), titled "This is No Ordinary Rabbit," looks at Arthur's knights' encounter with a crazed cottontail.

The scrolling screen presents a text roundup in gothic typeface. A selection of icons pop up in the day's script pages, and there is rough audio from the scene, Michael Palin's typed diary, the daily continuity report (24 pages of detail and sketches), two outtakes (one offers laughs from Tim the Enchanter) and a slideshow from the set.

Best of all, for the Python purist, there's a way to swipe through a miniscene of a knight being decapitated by the furry adversary and an audio clip from the FA Cup Final that the boys listened to in between fights with the rabbit.

Also, Terry Jones and Mr. Palin are part of a video diary throughout the listings that has the pair taking a nostalgia trip through some of the Holy Grail locations, including the rabbit cave.

When all is explored, viewers are privy to more than 70 minutes of never-seen-before, behind-the-scenes action, a Pythonized map of Scotland and such bizarre clickables as 360-degree views of props.

Not only does a player use his finger to investigate the intricacies of the Holy Hand Grenade, Trojan Rabbit and a bottle of theatrical blood, but a flick of the digit causes the object to spin around like a top, for no apparent reason.

Of course, the cut-out-and-paste animation style of Terry Gilliam saturates screens throughout and always is embellished with an audio sound effect or line of dialogue ("Bring out your dead!").

I can't be sure, however, if the average human who hasn't been bitten by Python's unique brand of wit will find the app as enthralling as I do.

So, to offer every possible reason to plunk down $4.99, the developers also extend the app's functionality by tying it to watching the recent Blu-ray release of "Month Python and the Holy Grail" (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $19.99).

Newbies get to not only enjoy a classic comedy but, as they hold the iPad, it become a basic controller for the Blu-ray player (pause and play buttons) and the app is synced to display the Scene by Scene option while watching or automatically triggers the parts of the film tied to the app with a click.

Now, find your favorite moments, such as the ribald tale of Sir Galahad or King Arthur's encounter with the Knights Who Say Ni and painlessly pull up all of the details in this mirth-loaded resource to get a multitasking lesson in creating comedy.

Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days may explore why it was so miserable to make a film about the Arthurian legend (so sayeth nearly all of the cast) but, thanks to the iPad, will keep a viewer laughing and interacting for hours.

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