Director: Terry Jones
Starring: Simon Pegg, Kate Beckinsale, Robin Williams, Sanjeev Bhaskar, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Eddie Izzard, Rod Riggle
Written by: Terry Jones and Gavin Scott
Running Time: 85 mins
Release date: 14th August 2015
Absolutely Anything should have been the dream ticket. A film directed by Terry Jones, the Monty Python member responsible for lensing Life Of Brian, in which he has brought together his old Python pals together as well as using the voice of the late, great Robin Williams. His cast isn’t bad either. It can’t fail! Actually it can.
In deep space, a group of aliens need to decide whether the Earth should be worthy of keeping or to destroy it. In order to decide, they choose one human being to have absolute power, to see if he can use it for good. They pick mild-mannered school teacher, Neil Clarke, a man slowly get on with life with as little aggravation as possible. When he finds out he has this extraordinary power, while fun at first, he soon discovers it’s a huge responsibility for a simple man to have.
The premise is hardly original. It’s the old “three wishes” plotting that we’ve seen several times before and so this has to be something special to make it stand out. Initially it does, with the creation of the alien council that preside over the decision of planet Earth. Floating in space in a jellyfish shaped craft, this has the air of Douglas Adams about it. Each of the aliens, looking very different from the other, with the voices of the Python boys, and calling each other female names that are completely inappropriate for their look, is funny. It has that feeling of classic Python and you believe the rest of the film is going to be on this level.
Sadly, it isn’t. Once we get to Earth, this becomes a mish-mash of ideas that just don’t seem to gel, bouncing between the surreal to the conventional with plot devices that feels forced and awkward. It’s a film looking for a comedy identity.
It has sporadic moments of comedy, as Neil comes to terms with his powers. The worshipping of fellow school teacher, Ray, by a female member of staff, has flashes of Life Of Brian about it, while the introduction of a talking dog, voiced brilliantly by Mr Williams, takes the film into another realm, so you end up wanting more of the aliens and more of the dog, feeling you could disregard the human elements altogether.
The cast valiantly give their all. Simon Pegg, who struggles with anything outside his work with Edgar Wright and Nick Frost, or when he plays a supporting character in a Hollywood blockbuster, is better here than he has been in previous solo efforts. As Neil he brings an Everyman likeability to the role. Sanjeev Bhaskar is the best of the humans, as best friend, Ray, while Eddie Izzard brings some laughs as the head teacher.
Kate Beckinsale, as Kate, Neil’s neighbour and the woman he is in love with, looks completely out-of-place. With her golden tan, perfect teeth and long locks, she is far too Hollywood to be believable as an ordinary girl living and working in London. Rod Riggle, as an obsessive soldier after Kate’s affection, also doesn’t work and it feels like adding him is an after-thought, while Joanna Lumley, as an acid-tongue presenter of a book programme, might as well not even turned up, she’s in it that little.
If we had a film made up of the Python boys and Robin Williams, just doing their stuff for 90 minutes, this would have been a blast. Instead, this is a film of fits and starts that, considering the talent involved, should have been a laugh-riot. Instead it’s mildly amusing but that’s as far as it goes. As a post note, the film has been classified 12A in the Uk, yet I was very surprised with the amount of F-bombs dropped, including one scene that has at least five usage. If you have younger children wanting to see it, be aware.