Tuesday 19 January 2016

Absolutely Anything

When Absolutely Anything was announced, people pricked up their ears and were understandably quite excited. Sure, it’s not an original premise – it’s basically a British Bruce Almighty. But with a stellar comical cast including Simon Pegg, Eddie Izzard, Robin Williams and the surviving members of Monty Python, not to mention Terry Jones at the helm, Absolutely Anything did seem promising. But on the 14th of August, it was released…to dreadful reviews. Currently standing at 9% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, is Absolutely Anything really as bad as everyone says? Warning: this review may contain angry ranting…

Out now on DVD & Blu-Ray, Absolutely Anything tells the story of Neil Clarke (Simon Pegg), a disillusioned schoolteacher and average loser. When a group of aliens (voiced by the surviving Pythons) bestow upon him the ability to do absolutely anything he wants - so they can determine whether the human race can be good, and whether or not Earth should be obliterated - he struggles to deal with his new-found powers. From the cast alone, you can probably assume the comical turns this narrative takes. Well, Terry Jones clearly thinks it’s comical. But it isn’t. With a premise like this, the filmmaker could do absolutely anything. Nothing is off limits. It could be hilarious. But unfortunately, Jones wastes any potential the film has by making it an instantly forgettable load of old shit filled with predictable and juvenile humour and an abysmal narrative.

I’ll start with the very few positives. Robin Williams, in his last ever role, arguably steals the show as Dennis the dog – Neil’s pet, whom he gives a voice with his powers. Despite being wholly predictable and completely unoriginal, there is some well-observed humour here regarding a dog’s constant desire for affection and praise, while living to serve his ‘master’. Yes, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before – Disney/Pixar’s Up did it much better with Dug. But as a dog-lover, it got a chuckle or two out of this reviewer. The only chuckles this film gave me. Other than Williams, I could spend a bit of time telling you that Simon Pegg did his best with the material he was given, or I could even stretch to say that the film’s cinematography was decent, or the premise brought some satire, or some bollocks like that. But unfortunately, the film’s countless flaws make it difficult to give Absolutely Anything any praise. Shall we get into the nitty-gritty? That’s what you want, isn’t it?

Firstly, the humour was ridiculously dumbed-down and childish from the outset. In the first 20 minutes, we have a cringe-worthy early sequence involving anthropomorphic dog shit skipping around Pegg’s apartment. If that’s the sort of thing you find funny, you’ll love Absolutely Anything. Oh look, Simon Pegg is using his power to get ‘a massive dick’ which is so heavy, he falls over. Isn’t that just hilarious? He asks for ‘a great body’ but doesn’t specify gender, so ends up with a pair of tits! Oh my, how do they come up with this? It’s genius! No, it’s not, because I’m not 12 years old. The jokes throughout just made shake my head, both at the cast for being involved, and at the prospect that anyone might find this amusing. 

The next issue was the narrative. In a film like this, all we need is 80 minutes of a normal bloke twatting around with his powers, causing a few problems and learning his lesson. Maybe a little romance in there somewhere is acceptable. But no, Terry Jones rammed so much shit into this awful film, there isn’t enough time to develop any of it. The main offender here is Rob Riggle, one of the most annoying ‘comedy’ actors working today. Basically, Pegg’s character is in love with his neighbour Catherine (Kate Beckinsale) – but Catherine’s ex-boyfriend, the boisterous American soldier Grant (Riggle), is stalking her. One thing leads to another, he learns of Pegg’s power, takes him hostage and forces him to make ridiculous things happen like “All Englishmen must have big pointy ears and webbed feet”. It’s making me angry just typing this. F***ing ridiculous. You know what? I don’t want to spend much more time talking about this and I’m sure you don’t want to read about it. To summarise my remaining points, the CGI was shite, some sub-plots and cast-members are criminally underused and rushed, and the awful narrative/strange pacing/short length just make it feel like one, long, bad sketch in a bad TV show.

To conclude, Absolutely Anything is absolutely awful. Just dire. An insult to comedy and a slap in the face to cinema. It’s a poorly written mess. Douglas Adams, the great man behind The  Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, apparently looked over the script before he died and, according to Terry Jones, said ‘Dennis the dog’s scenes were the funniest’. That’s his polite way of saying ‘Dennis the dog’s scenes are the only scenes in this script that are remotely entertaining’. Everyone involved in this disaster should be ashamed of themselves.

Absolutely Anything is the worst ‘comedy’ film in years. 1/5


Sam Love

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