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Absolutely Anything Review


The last feature film Terry Jones stepped behind the camera for was in 1996 for The Wind in the Willows, and now, after decades of tinkering on the script with co-writer Gavin Scott (Jones has stated he had the idea in his head for over twenty years), we see him in the director’s chair once again for Absolutely Anything, the kind of absurd comedy you would expect from a member of Monty Python that sadly sees its attempts at drawing huge guffaws elicit only minor chuckles instead.

Jones reunites with the remaining Pythons as CGI aliens who have slapped a demolition notice on Earth, but according to their laws, our majestic blue orb is given one chance to be saved: a normal human being is given the power to do absolutely anything they desire. If they use this power for good, Earth is saved. Use it for evil, doomed. These powers are given to disillusioned schoolteacher Neil (Simon Pegg) who proceeds to use them to make his life better, unbeknownst the fate of the world lies in his hands. As wonderfully high concept as that premise is, Absolutely Anything doesn’t really do much with it. After a fantastic first act that breezes effortlessly through the set up and has great fun with the premise, as Neil comes to terms with the literal nature of his powers (he wishes everyone who died be alive again, cue zombie  apocalypse), it slows to a crawl as the narrative almost becomes a string of barely connected sketches that soon outstay their welcome.

With the exception of Neil’s dog Dennis gaining the ability to talk (his dulcet tones provided by the late, great Robin Williams), the gags begin to fall flat as the minutes tick by, with only a handful hitting their mark. There’s no rhyme or reason to what happens really, and despite the inclusion of a sub plot involving Neil’s crush Catherine (Kate Beckinsale) and her crazy ex-boyfriend Grant (Rob Riggle), the story goes no where fast. It’s only in the closing minutes, when the aliens become relevant again, that there’s any sense of urgency, but by then it’s too little too late. Thankfully, the cast do a lot to help this movie, with Pegg imbuing Neill with a likable goofy charm that stops this from falling apart. He has a lot of fun with what he’s given, even when his head is clumsily pasted on top of a badly CGI'd body, and he won’t fail to make you smile as he tries to deal with events spinning further and further out of his control.  Williams brings Dennis to life wonderfully, his manic delivery earning the lions share of the laughs. Beyond Pegg, Williams, and the Pythons, there is a wonderful comedy cast assembled here, including Joanna Lumley and Eddie Izzard, but while they shine when they’re onscreen, they’re wasted in their roles.

While it might waste a wonderful concept and comedy ensemble, Absolutely Wonderful just about gets by on the merits of Simon Pegg and Robin Williams. Not a total failure, but it doesn’t really do justice to the talent involved.


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The Movie Bit: Absolutely Anything Review
Absolutely Anything Review
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