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Movie Review: Absolutely Anything

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Certificate 12A, 85 minutes

Director: Terry Jones

Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Simon Pegg, Robin Williams

Absolutely Anything opens with a (fictional) probe being sent into space in 1972. This is relevant, because in the present, the probe has (somehow) managed to travel way beyond the Solar System, where it is recovered by an enormous craft occupied by the Intergalactic Council of Superior Beings. The probe had a typical message plate on it, showing how to find Earth and what humanity is like - a plate that appears largely identical to ones recovered from the vehicles of many other alien races.

There are four races on the Council, the Chief Alien (John Cleese), Nasty Alien (Terry Gilliam), Scientist Alien (Terry Jones) and Kindly Alien (Michael Palin), and a fifth that is seen, Salubrious Gat (Eric Idle).They are eager to destroy the planet, as they feel it has nothing to offer, and is something they have done with pretty much every other race encountered, but first, they have to follow the legal niceties. This is done by seeing how the people on the planet handle the ability to do absolutely anything, which power is already possessed by the superior species in question. This is judged by whiter the race being evaluated can distinguish between good and evil (as defined by the handbook), when granted this power. The Council therefore grants absolute power to one individual on the planet for ten days, after which their performance will be evaluated, and the planet most likely destroyed. the individual is chosen at random and, after narrowly missing Sarah Palin, Neil Clarke (Simon Pegg) is selected.

Absolutely Anything
Neil is an English teacher, although he doesn't enjoy his job, nor does he actually seem to do much teaching, and his poor attendance and frequent tardiness is noted by the headmaster (Eddie Izzard). He is also trying, and basically failing, to write a novel, but doesn't seem to be getting anywhere. Neil's best friend, Ray (Sanjeev Bhaskar), also works at the school, and he also has a dog, Dennis (voiced by the late Robin Williams, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb), as well as an unrequited crush on the woman in the flat below, Catherine (Kate Beckinsale, Contraband, Total Recall, Underworld: Awakening). Catherine herself works on a show called Book Matters, where the host Fenella (Joanna Lumley), hates books and never reads them. Catherine, who personally likes books, isn't enjoying working on a show whose sole purpose is to tear down authors, and is also having problems with her psychotic U.S. Army colonel ex-boyfriend, Grant (Rob Riggle), who has flown over from the U.S. to basically stalk her.

When Neil is granted his powers, he doesn't immediately realise, and accidentally kills his entire class. When he finally works out that he was responsible for this, he tries to undo his mistake by saying "Let everyone who died be alive again." Which doesn't work as planned, as corpses haul themselves out of the ground and sit up in morgues in a scene resembling a zombie apocalypse. Fortunately, this can be undone.

All Neil has to do to use the power is to say what he wants, then wave his right hand, and it will happen. The power, as is so often the case with granted wishes in mythology, is rather literal. You get what you ask for, not what you intended to happen. Neil abuses the power to start with, with some unfortunate consequences, and others such as getting his dog, Dennis, to talk. With time running out. Neil hasn't shown that he can handle the power, but, of course, he doesn't know that there is a, literal, deadline.

There is a lot of bad language for a film of this certification; nothing truly bad, but more than you would expect for a film of this rating, so it may not be suitable for all. Neil handles the powers he has been granted in the same way that most would - badly. The film also shows that simply trying to do good does not necessarily work out either, as once Neil realises he's being selfish, he tries to fix things. Absolutely Anything is not exactly a seamless construction, but it's amiable silliness with enough funny parts to keep you occupied, but it don't quite tie into a coherent whole. It isn't a pure comedy either; there is also a rom-com mixed in with Neil's relationship with Catherine. Apart from Neil, and Dennis after he gets a voice, and to a lesser extent Catherine and Ray, very few of the stars actually have roles worth talking about. Instead, there are a few too many storyline that aren't really developed. Surprisingly, there's also a twist to the story. Absolutely Anything is adequate viewing with a fair amount of humour, but not otherwise exceptional, and feels like it has tried to go in a few too many directions.
Absolutely Anything egdcltd 2015-08-21 3.0 0 5


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