Producer: Bill Jones & Ben Timlett.
Distributed by: Lionsgate UK.
Writer: Terry Jones & Gavin Scott.
Starring: Simon Pegg, Kate Beckinsale, Rob Riggle, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Monty Python & Robin Williams.
Music: George Fenton.
Editing: Julian Rodd.
Cinematography: Peter Hannan.
Box Office: $3.8 million.
Runtime: 1 hr 25 mins.
Release Date: August 14th 2015
Absolutely Anything looked promising just by looking at the trailers. It boasts the talent of the comedy group, Monty Python who were created in the 1960s and consisted then of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliham, Eric Idle, Terry Jones & Michael Palin. Their comedy works were great successes with their TV series, Monty Pyhton’s Flying Circus and films Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. After disbanding in the 80s, they have made a comeback with 2005’s Spamalot (The Holy Grail stage musical). Absolutely Anything also boasted the voice talent of the late great Robin Williams as the dog, so is the film the great comedy classic it was touted to be or is it a flop?
Neil Clarke is an ordinary human. He has a pet dog called Dennis, he has a crush on his neighbour Catherine and works day-in and day-out as a school teacher. But one day, he’s randomly selected by the Intergalactic Council of Superior Beings to be given the power to do “Absolutely Anything” with a wave of his hand. If he uses these newfound powers for good, Earth will become a part of the Intergalactic Council. But if Neil uses the powers for evil, Earth will be destroyed. Neil must come to terms with these powers, but will he use them to save the Earth, or just use them for mundane things? Such as giving his dog Dennis the ability to speak.
Absolutely Anything, on paper sounds like a great concept to turn into a fun, family-friendly comedy. A person who can literally do “absolutely anything” could be a great recipe for comedy, its a great premise on its own and something kids could enjoy. The most obvious comparison that Absolutely Anything follows in its plot is Jim Carrey’s Bruce Almighty; it seems like a direct clone and it got hilarious at how much it was as well. Everything from a normal guy getting strange powers, using these powers wrongly, then screwing up his life, particularly with a girl and then getting back with said girl, the formula here is Bruce Almighty, but maybe it could be Bruce Almighty for a new generation? Probably not and here’s why.
My main problem with Absolutely Anything is its tone and the humour.The tone in this film I thought was schizophrenic, as the absolutely anything concept is a fun way to show off cartoony concepts and visuals. And there are some clever and funny sight jokes to be made out of these powers, such as a human faeces walking and the dead coming alive again. These visuals would appeal to the younger audience, but then the film has no qualms in being crude and adult in some scenes. This film is a family film, but throughout the film, there are plenty of F-bombs, nudity and I believe sex jokes as well for good measure. Kids would not really be the appropriate audience for this film, because of these adult jokes thrown in, that is mixed in with cartoony visuals. The adult and cartoony/childish nature of the film clashed together and because it felt schizophrenic, it made it feel like it didn’t really know who to appeal to.
The performances in Absolutely Anything is solid and is what I expected, however there were some slight letdowns. Simon Pegg is your typical average guy and he plays this role very well, in roles like Shaun of the Dead. Kate Beckinsale is nothing more than an object or a prize for a man, as her character is being lusted after by Rob Riggle and Pegg’s character. Talking of Rob Riggle, why was he in Absolutely Anything? Aside from Robin Williams, it felt strange having an american in this British comedy and to me, it felt like a generic casting. He was just terrible and when he forces Neil to make his wishes come true with his powers, the cartoon metre went up. It became too silly and stupid for me to deal with. And finally, we come onto Robin Williams who plays Dennis the Dog. As expected, he is amazing and hilarious in Absolutely Anything and THE only standout moment of the movie. This is his last film before his death and for me, it was pretty sweet to go out on. Just hearing his voice when the dog doesn’t appear and then you see Dennis just makes it really funny. Robin Williams was a lot of fun in this film.
Seeing as this has also been marketed as a Monty Python film, then its standard to talk about them here. They all play the aliens of the Intergalactic Council of Superior Beings while they are well voiced overall, I can understand that some people or fans wanted to see them physically to appear on screen dressed as aliens. That would’ve been better and it has great potential and it could’ve mocked the behaviour of classic aliens but what we do have are rather forgettable alien characters, however the performances are solid by the Monty Python comedy team. The supporting characters are enjoyable, if very limited and wastes of good British talent.
Absolutely Anything is average when it comes to the production. The music is forgettable, the editing and direction are smoothly done, however the CGI for many of the visuals that benefit from Neil’s powers is effective to work in a cartoon way, as I gleamed enjoyment to seeing Neil trying out his powers and seeing the effects of them.
Absolutely Anything as a film in itself, is a hit and miss opportunity in some ways. Its structure and plot is Bruce Almighty and is schizophrenic, some of the characters, especially Rob Riggle’s was annoying and didn’t fit into the film. Some of the humour can be too juvenile for my liking and too silly; however, it does have a hilarious vocal performance out of Robin Williams and a strong lead in Simon Pegg. However, there are some great standalone moments, such as Simon Pegg and Dennis interacting with each other and the visuals do impress me sometimes. Overall, it doesn’t make me laugh out loud, rather it just makes me chuckle at certain moments. I do like the film overall, but its concept I wish had been handled better with a more defined tone.