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A Reel Life film section

Issue: Summer 2015-6

Absolutely Anything (2015) DVD/Blu-Ray movie review

I Wish I Might



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movie poster, Absolutely Anything, Festivale film review; 220x326

Movie poster, Absolutely Anything
Neil Clarke's life just got extraordinary.

Absolutely Anything is a science fiction romantic comedy directed and cowritten by Terry Jones, best known for his work in Monty Python's Flying Circus. It stars Simon Pegg and features all the living members of Monty Python. Sanjeev Sanjeev Bhaskar, Joanna Lumley and Eddie Izzard play supporting characters (Izzard's hard-as-nails headmaster is superb).

The film revolves around disillusioned school teacher, Neil Clake (Pegg), who is given the ability to do absolutely anything - as the title suggests. This power is granted to him by a council of aliens - voiced by the Pythons - who randomly choose one human as a test: if the human does good with this power, the Earth will be spared; if the human does evil, the Earth is destroyed.

The film starts with the aliens in space, which met with my approval. The computer animated creatures and their gigantic glowing jellyfish of a space station are handsomely designed, and it's a nostalgic thrill to hear the voices of John Cleese, Eric Idle and the other Pythons giving them life. There are some witty moments, especially when the aliens are choosing which human they'll give the power to - watch for who almost gets it! - and there's a cute reference to Life of Brian here too.

The sequences that follow are nicely put together. If Pegg plays the same character in every film, he's mastered it. It was said of Jack Lemmon that he was the quintessential 20th Century Man; maybe Pegg is his 21st Century equivalent. When his Neil Clarke first acquires his power, I found myself sympathising with his panic; and the moment when he accidentally invents a way to feel better is lovely.

To this point, I was pleasantly surprised. The story of the man who is granted wishes is such a familiar one, but this time it seemed they were going to do something fresh with it

But, sadly, no.

After its early promise, the story goes in a direction as old as Aladdin. The Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy once accused English authors of turning into 'dancing bears' when they start writing female characters. Absolutely Anything is true to this tradition. Pegg's frantic attempts to win the love of Catherine West (Kate Beckinsale) come across as pathetic, and his rival for her hand - namely a broadly-written American secret agent - is a character thirty years out of date.

From this point, flaws accumulate. Story threads are dropped, characters' decisions don't make sense, some of the jokes are badly dated, and the potential of the central idea is squandered.

Even so, I feel obliged to add that Absolutely Anything isn't without its charms - many will enjoy Robin Williams' talking dog, for instance - and not everyone will be disappointed by its lack of originality.

If nothing else, it will provide fodder for the many Simon Pegg and Monty Python tragics out there.

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by Adam Browne
Australian DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital release March 23, 2016
For credits and official site details, see below
Search Festivale for more work by the film-makers below.
See also:

Margaret Bowd's review of Absolutely Anything

Just the facts:

Title: Absolutely Anything (2015)
Written by: Gavin Scott and Terry Jones
Directed by: Terry Jones
Running time: 85 mins
Rating: M

The Players: Kate Beckinsale, Robin Williams (voice), Simon Pegg, Terry Gilliam, Joanna Lumley, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin,

Official website:
IMDb entry

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