DVD Review: Absolutely Anything

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Those seeking a completely objective assessment of Absolutely Anything, the sci-fi comedy directed by Monty Python member Terry Jones, I'm afraid you'll have go elsewhere. I refuse to ignore the bittersweet elements that make Absolutely Anything absolutely worth seeing for comedy fans. Jones, who also scripted and has a small role (along with each of the surviving Pythons), suffers from a form of dementia called primary progressive aphasia—he was diagnosed not long after this film was completed. The condition has robbed Jones of his communication skills and forced him into retirement.

Absolutely Anything also features Robin Williams in his final film performance, providing the voice of scruffy Dennis the Dog. Given that this is the swan song to two comedy legends, you'd have to be truly heartless to not note an air of heavy melancholy surrounding this project (which was released in the U.K. two years ago, but is just now seeing a U.S. release on DVD by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment). 
Absolutely Anything simon pegg.jpg With all that said, Absolutely Anything is a competent light comedy, rather than anything approaching a classic. A team of space aliens (Jones, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam) is speeding toward Earth to destroy the human race. They're a smug bunch, convinced it's their intergalactic duty to rid the universe of "inferior beings." They'll do what they always do when encountering a new species: select one random individual, grant him omniscient powers, and see if he uses said powers for good or evil.

That random individual is Neil (Simon Pegg), a sad-sack schoolteacher whose best friend is his dog Dennis. He's sprung for a woman in his apartment building, Catherine (Kate Beckinsale). Unbeknownst to Neil, she actually has an interest in him. But once Neil finds himself with the all-powerful ability to do "absolutely anything," he begins playing matchmaker for himself as well as others. He also grants the power of speech to Dennis, which allows Williams to riff one last time. Pegg's patented exasperation serves him well throughout, with a few very funny farcical sequences between Neil, the dog, and Catherine.

All things considered, Absolutely Anything should have been a home run. Alas, this film isn't going to be named among the best work by anyone involved. But it's also not an embarrassment. The combination of rom-com and Bruce Almighty-style sight gags doesn't always work—Neil is far too relaxed after discovering his amazing powers. And the digital effects (including the Python-voiced aliens) leave a lot to be desired. But again, as previously stated, I'm not going to nitpick this one. Considering Absolutely Anything's direct-to-video status (in the U.S. anyway), it unlikely many will go in expecting greatness. It coasts by on the talented cast's ability to extract laughs from often too-thin material.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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