Absolutely Anything was directed and co-written by Terry Jones, (of Monty Python fame,) and is an amusing, light hearted look at the idea of ‘absolute power’. When Neil Clarke (Simon Pegg,) an un-remarkable, un-successful secondary school teacher, is bestowed with the power to do anything, things get very strange very quickly. Peggs’ latest offering is also, importantly, the very last film Robin Williams was involved in and arguably William’s does steal the show in voicing Dennis the Dog.
This playful foundation allows the film to explore the weird and wonderful un-hindered by any expectations of realism.
The films strange premise is based on the idea that a superior alien race (voiced by the Monty Python team,) is testing earth and it’s inhabitants. By giving Neil Clarke power they plan to assess his use of it and, by extension, see if the human race will be allowed to continue existing. This playful foundation allows the film to explore the weird and wonderful un-hindered by any expectations of realism. However it does also make the film feel a little like an exercise in stupidity at times. A short look at the trailer, (found below,) will immediately give you a firm understanding of the sort of fun this film has to offer.
Absolutely Anything is a wonderful, simple exploration of a premise that is simply good fun.
One of the main draw-backs of the film was the over simplicity of Kate Beckinsale’s character, Catherine, who is the films love interest but, notably, adds very little else. Her dialogue is all simple and her sole concern in life seems to be the fact that she’s single, which is of course handy for Neil Clarke, the besotted neighbour. Neil is, no doubt, the centre of the films’ plot, but the fact that Catherine is so two-dimensional does detract from what, otherwise, is a very enjoyable film.
Robin Williams voices the part of Dennis the Dog and absolutely steals the show. A main feature in the trailer and by far one of the most amusing parts of the film, Dennis is the most memorable aspect of Absolutely Anything. Williams’ voice is given to Dennis the Dog after Neil uses his new-found powers to find out why Dennis was whining. The sequence that follows features in the trailer and is, admittedly, one of the most enjoyable sections of the film, but Dennis is a consistent highlight and ultimately becomes an important part of the plot- though in many ways the plot in Absolutely Anything is secondary. It is the films un-predictable exploration of Neil’s powers that sets it apart from otherwise similar comedies.
While Williams’ contribution is central to the films appeal, that of the Python team, (Terry Jones aside of course,) is minimal and appears as though it could simply have been called in as a favour by Jones. So don’t seek this film out on the basis of being a massive Cleese/Palin/Idle fan, you’ll be sorely disappointed. While their cameo is amusing their dialogue doesn’t really capture their individual characters in any meaningful way, despite trying. For instance Palin is given the position of being the ‘kindly alien’ but his dialogue comes across as awkward in places rather than conveying his level headed nature.
A main feature in the trailer and by far one of the most amusing parts of the film, Dennis is the most memorable aspect of Absolutely Anything.
Absolutely Anything is a wonderful, simple exploration of a premise that is simply good fun. Don’t expect a comedy masterclass though, this definitely is not the new Hot Fuzz/Shaun of the Dead that Pegg has been looking for and it’s far from Python making a return to their vintage best. It is a film well worth watching, though perhaps mainly to appreciate Robin Williams’ fantastic sign off performance.
By George Storr