“Absolutely Anything” reviewed – Four out of Ten (Edited)

I rented the DVD of Absolutely Anything, the last ever Monty Python film, and watched it. This is my review of it.
The good news: it’s not as bad as some of the critics have said.
The bad news: it’s still not a good film.
When I read that Terry Jones was directing what would be the last Monty Python film ever, I was excited, and eagerly awaited it. Its South African release was scheduled to be the 16th June 2016. But almost immediately after its UK release on August 15 2015, worrying signs appeared. The critics were harsh, and Absolutely Anything flopped at the box office, taking in less than $6 million in theatres. The South African cinematic release was abandoned.
So today, I went down to my local Blockbuster, rented Absolutely Anything and watched it. While not awful, it is certainly disappointing.
The problems start very early on. One of the first scenes is Neil Clarke (Simon Pegg) accepting an award for his book. The presenter is his neighbour Catherine West (Kate Beckinsale). As he recites his acceptance speech, his dog Dennis starts barking. Then a whole bunch of dogs appear, also barking. And then Neil wakes up. It was just a dream. Seriously, this is one of the laziest clichés around.
The second problem is he leaves his flat, sees Catherine, starts talking to her, and lies about the progress he’s been making on his book. The scene is just awkward and painful to watch. In fact, most of Absolutely Anything‘s interactions between Neil and Catherine feel awkward and forced.
Neil works as as schoolteacher. One of his colleagues, Ray (Sanjeev Bhaskar), has a crush on the PE Teacher Miss Pringle (Emma Pierson) who is both interested in another teacher and completely uninterested in him. Ray comes across as creepy and stalkerish, and the scene to introduce this is set up in a way that just made me very uncomfortable.
In the meantime, one of the Voyager probes sent out in the 1970s is picked up by the “Galactic Council of Superior Beings” (surviving Monty Python members John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin). Unimpressed, they decide to subject humanity to their standard test: one member of the species is chosen at random and granted the power to do absolutely anything he or she wishes for ten days. If the powers have been used for good, the Council will reveal themselves and invite humanity to join. If the powers are used for evil, the planet will be destroyed. The individual chosen is Neil. All he needs to do is say what he wants and wave his hand, and it is done.
Neil starts out by blowing up a classroom and the pupils in it. This is before he works out that he has powers. Once he works out that he has the power to do absolutely anything, he starts trying it out. The problem is, he has to word his wishes/commands precisely, or things go wrong. This plot point actually results in quite a few funny moments.
And a few not so funny ones.
One of the first things Neil does after he works out he has powers is to make Miss Pringle worship Ray. This backfires when she sets up a religion around Ray. This sets up some of the most cringeworthy scenes in Absolutely Anything.
Catherine is also having problems. While in the US, she had a fling with Colonel Grant (Rob Riggle), who flies to the UK and tries to get back together with her. More unpleasantness and awkwardness ensue for the viewer. Absolutely Anything seems to think that creepy, stalkerish behaviour is funny. Protip: it’s not.
In the film’s key scene, Neil cooks dinner for Catherine. He then chooses to reveal his powers to her. He doesn’t do this by demonstrating them to her, which is how he revealed them to Ray, he just talks about them. Catherine, for her part, is left wondering if Neil is as insane as Grant. This is answered when Grant literally crashes into Neil’s flat through a window. Neil then forgets that he could literally send Grant back to the US with a few words and a wave of his hand. This plot hole is simply annoying.
There are other issues, but the above covers most of them. Absolutely Anything‘s funny moments are too few and far between, a lot of the supposed humour derives from clichés that weren’t that funny even when they were fresh, and the awkwardness is just too much.
This is a sad ending to the career of one of the best comedic troupes of all time. Monty Python and the Holy Grail is regarded as one of the funniest films of all time. Ditto Life of Brian. Terry Jones directed Erik the Viking, another hilarious film. And now this mess.
Absolutely Anything is like seeing a straight A student turn in a D-Grade project. You know that they are capable of far, far better.
Rating: Four out of Ten.

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About autismjungle

I am a Software Test Analyst. Shortly before I turned 21 I was officially diagnosed, although I had long suspected I was autistic. Welcome to my blog
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One Response to “Absolutely Anything” reviewed – Four out of Ten (Edited)

  1. Steve says:

    I actually liked it, alot more than you I see, but I’d like to remind you that it’s not a Python film. More accurately, it’s an appearance by the Pythons in a Terry Jones film. You could definitely say it’s related to Python, but it’s just not a Python film.

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