Neil (Simon Pegg) is – in his headmaster’s own words – a ‘feckless’ schoolteacher who dreams of bigger and better things. His day-to-day is filled with his horrible class (10C), shopping, cycling to and from work, attempting to write a novel and lusting after Catherine, the girl downstairs (Kate Beckinsale). Then something out of this world happens that changes everything. Literally, everything.
Somewhere out in the cosmos, a small group of ‘higher beings’ have decided to destroy the Earth. They must first, however, run a test by selecting one human to have absolute power. What he does with that power will determine the planet’s fate.
Hence, Neil is chosen at random (narrowly avoiding a few dodgy options including Justin Bieber) and, without knowing it, the test begins. Things are a little confused at first. With a few poorly chosen words and the waft of his hand, children are mercilessly slain and there’s a brief Shaun of the Dead moment. But eventually Neil gets the hang of it and before long everything is working in his favour: the headmaster likes him, 10C are model pupils, and even Catherine is under his spell… but it doesn’t last.
As Catherine’s maniacal ex-boyfriend (Rob Riggle) discovers Neil’s secrets, things will go from bad to worse before the aliens decide whether to wipe the Earth from existence or not. Will Neil manage to make the right decisions? Will the Earth be saved? Will anyone laugh more than a handful of times?
This film has excellent credentials. Co-written and directed by Monty Python’s Terry Jones, with his fellow Pythons lending their voices to the aliens while the legendary Robin Williams does the same for Neil’s dog, Dennis. The screen is literally packed with comedy stars, including Sanjeev Bhaskar, Eddie Izzard, Joanna Lumley and Meera Syal. Yet none of this can save this from being anything other than a passable viewing experience.
Absolutely Anything’s biggest problem is the director. While Jones has some writing and directing chops, those successes dwell firmly in the past, which is presumably why this film seems to do the same. The gags are old and predictable and the direction is on a par only with a BBC sitcom. It’s obvious that the cast clearly did not accept their respective parts based on anything other than the chance to work with a Python.
Not without merit (the few jokes that work are laugh-out-loud moments and Pegg is always watchable), this movie struggles to be anything other than a universal disappointment that massively under-delivers on the promise of its cast, crew and its concept.
Special Features: Four featurettes / Cast and crew interviews
ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: TERRY JONES / SCREENPLY: GAVIN SCOTT, TERRY JONES / STARRING: SIMON PEGG, KATE BECKINSALE, SANJEEV BHASKAR, ROB RIGGLE, EDDIE IZZARD / RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 7TH