There's no joy in Montyville tonight. First came the recent death of Monty Python troupe member Graham Chapman; now there's the release of the sadly moribund "Erik the Viking" (citywide), which makes idle use of the talents of Pythonites Terry Jones and John Cleese as well as such frequent collaborators as composer Neil Innes. Post-mortem to follow.
Jones wrote, directed and took a small role in which he has given himself some of the movie's unfunniest lines. "Erik" was purportedly his dream project, but it's more like a paying audience's nightmare--a stillborn comedy in which minutes sometimes mysteriously go by between even attempted gags, and in which virtually no comic scene works up to any kind of viable punch line or payoff.
Berobed and baffled, Tim Robbins founders in the underdeveloped title role. His character--vaguely heroic, a little clumsy--is set up in a pre-credit sequence (the movie's funniest) as a first-time plunderer who tries and fails to rape a young woman and then falls in love with her before skewering her by mistake. Erik's properly barbaric Viking dad, played in a cameo by Mickey Rooney, approves of his son's accidental method of dealing with contentious women: "That's my boy!"
It's downhill from there as Erik consults with earth-mama Eartha Kitt (in another of the movie's many cameos) for cosmic advice, learning that a trip to Valhalla, land of the dead, might land him the Grail-like horn that would awaken the gods, conclude the Ice Age and maybe even end all human savagery. Pacifistic motives aside, Erik also would like to visit the afterlife to bring back the girlfriend he so quickly impaled in Scene 1. But she is irretrievable, and so is the film's sense of wit.