Absolutely Anything has everything you could hope for in a comedy on paper. You have one of the most likable leading men in Simon Pegg, the voice talents of the remaining Monty Python team (as well as being written and directed by Terry Jones) and Robin Williams playing a talking dog as well as the greatest comedian of our generation, Eddie Izzard. But Absolutely Anything falls painfully short of ever achieving anything more than something sometimes. A plot that never gets out of first gear, the unbearable Rob Riggle as a villain and a stone faced Kate Beckinsale phoning in the romantic lead.
Simon Pegg plays Neil, a school teacher/writer who isn’t particularly good at either but though cosmic luck is gifted the ability to do anything he wants with the wave of his hand. This power has been bestowed upon him by a galactic council judging the value of Earth. As Neil starts to discover his new found power, his relationships with his pet dog, downstairs neighbour and best friend are all thrown into chaos, slightly.
When you put together such a talented pool of comedians, you are bound to get a few laughs. Put in some absurd situations, Pegg draws laughs through his sheer exasperation of the situation, while others like Izzard and Sanjeev Bhaskar play their generic roles. Unfortunately Izzard, Bhaskar, Joanna Lumley and the Pythons are all underused in a film that could easily have padded its plot out with some hijinks and humour.
The problem of having a plot device that says “you can do anything you want ever” is that you remove all tension. Narratives need complications or obstacles, i learnt that in primary school. So when any unfortunate event or decision can be reversed with the wave of a hand then why do I care what happens? There is no consequences and many humourous possibilities and social messages are lost as a result. Absolutely Anything almost refused to scratch the surface on any lesson at all, its non-offensive tone and humour are the antithesis of most comedies that strap themselves to the flagpost of a cause. You are playing with the concept that absolute power corrupts absolutely but refuse to let it happen. The worst aspect of Absolutely Anything though is Rob Riggle. Why a brash American loudmouth turned up in a film touting the cream of British comedy is absurd. He is unbelievable, unwatchable and entirely miscast. Surely Steve Coogan would have been a better villain as a smarmy headstrong lothario pining for the affection of Kate Beckinsale.
It is a lesson that everybody should know by now. If you put Eddie Izzard on the screen, you will get cinema gold. In Absolutely Anything he plays a strict headmaster. His antics are confined until Neil wishes for some better treatment and from there on out we are gifted with Izzard’s gushing praise what is easily the highlight of the film.
Absolutely Anything gives us a set up, progression and conclusion. We have no complications in a plot that you can literally do absolutely anything with. Why it had to stay so safe is beyond me but it does ruin what should have been a victory lap of a film for some maturing and sadly departed comedy heroes. If you like the actors in the film then you will have a fine time watching this film, but you will be left wanting a bit more. Pegg has failed to capture a truly great leading performance outside of the Cornetto trilogy and perhaps needs to look at taking on a more edgy role to really get there. I don’t suggest you rush out to see this film, but give it a watch on a rainy afternoon and you will get a few smiles and chuckles.