Saturday movie review: Absolutely Anything

The 2015 British comedy ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING is absolutely ridiculous, absolutely odd, and absolutely unbelievable.

Which is what makes it an absolutely perfect escape film. The spoof on science fiction films features an amusing and uplifting alternate reality sure to appeal to anyone seeking a break from our real-world reality that's neither amusing or uplifting of late. Especially appealing for fans of Simon Pegg, the Monty Python crew, and Robin Williams, all who have amusing turns in the wacky world created by writer/director Terry Jones (co-written with Gavin Scott).

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Simon Pegg stars as Neil, an average and single schoolteacher — and the one human being randomly chosen by a commission of oddball aliens (voices of Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Eric Idle) for an experiment deciding the fate of Earth. The aliens grant Neil the ability to do absolutely anything. Anything. If Neil uses his powers for good, Earth is saved; if not, Earth is a goner.

Oblivious to how he came to possess such powers nor the ramifications of his use of them, Neil shares his new talent with only his coworker and pal Ray (Sanjheev Baskar); his neighbor and object of affection, Catherine (Kate Beckinsale); and his faithful dog Dennis (voice of Robin Williams, in his final feature film performance).

I fell in love with Simon Pegg after seeing him (and lovely Lake Bell) in MAN UP. He exudes the same self-deprecating charm in ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING. His subdued humor endears me to him, and here as Neil, he's once again the absolutely right combo of silly and sweet. Kate Beckinsale serves as straight man here, thankfully never succumbing to attempting to be over-the-top comedic. Pegg covers that base in their pairing.

Pegg also perfectly covers the best buddy to Ray, granting him a long-desired dream (much to Ray's eventual chagrin). And he perfectly plays the underdog we all root for to hilarious Rob Riggle's Grant, Neil's determined competitor in capturing Catherine's heart.

Fans of Monty Python will appreciate the antics of the aliens, particularly as this is the first film to feature all the living Monty Python actors since THE MEANING OF LIFE in 1983. 

Fans of Robin Williams will appreciate the joy with which he infuses Dennis. And sheer doggy delight. I found it heartwarming that Williams' last film would feature silly sweetness reminiscent of his early work in contrast to some of the darker work he delivered in his later films.

Silly-yet-sweet pretty much sums up the gist of this gem of a film. Be careful what you ask for pretty much sums up the moral of the story, viewers surmise rather quickly. Watching Neil come to the same conclusion — with Earth's survival in the balance — makes for flat-out fun entertainment. Regardless of how absolutely absurd the premise may seem.

A fun clip wherein Neil makes his dog Dennis talk... like Robin Williams (fyi: using Robin Williams-like language):

ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING (rated R for language including sexual references, and brief nudity) opened in U.S. theaters in May 2017 and is now available on various streaming services as well as DVD and Blu-ray (I watched via Netflix DVD).