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A review of "Absolutely Anything" (2015)

Absolutely Anything is like a Smith Island cake of irrelevancy.  One layer is for me, the sap who's increasingly out of touch with the world while I devote all my attention to my kids and books, and who had never heard of the movie before watching it.  One layer is for writer/director Terry Jones, whose previous feature was released about twenty years before.  Another layer for the supporting cast, which includes all the surviving members of Monty Python, which, while still hilarious to elder Millennial nerds, doesn't seem to have made the same impact to anybody born after 1990, mostly likely due to a lack of constant spamming on PBS.  Another layer goes to the gags, which eschew topical humor for the sake of familiar romcom tropes, occasionally sprinkled with the lukewarmly absurdist science-fiction bent that made the 2005 Hitchhikers' Guide movie less-than-memorable.

And just like Smith Island cake, it's a sweet and comforting movie all the same.

In terms of a laugh-per-minute ratio or cleverness quotient or any other kind of meter you might use to measure comedy, it comes up short.  It's more funny than the last Simon Pegg movie I reviewed, Hector and the Search for Happiness.  It's less funny than the last (worthwhile) comedy I reviewed, Handsome: A Netflix Mystery.  That doesn't put it in stellar territory.  So, I'm not surprised that the Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes percentages are underwhelming.

And honestly, it's a little tough to argue with that.  The first things that come to mind when I think of watching it are comic missteps.

At one point, there's a gag about how one randomly chosen person will receive unlimited power, and Sarah Palin's picture shows up; the implication being a huge, "Oh, God, no," moment.  Even if you allow that the movie's development probably began in 2014 and you forgive them for not predicting that Trump would be a bigger punchline, Palin's relevance had waned dramatically by then.  I guess that's another layer in the cake.

Or consider the final gag, in which the movie's villain - who has been turned into a dog through plot developments that don't need to be discussed here - is cornered by a talking dog who puts one paw on his shoulder and says something to the effect of, "We're going to get real comfortable," then winks.  Like, is it funny when the rapist is an adorable mutt?  Isn't that basically how Klumps: The Nutty Professor 2 ended (aka, the Worst Movie of 2000, Yes, Even Worse Than Battlefield: Earth)?

Yet despite all that, the fact remains that it is still a Simon Pegg comedy, and it does still have all of Monty Python in it, plus bit parts by Robin Williams, Joanna Lumley, Eddie Izzard, and others.  And there are some good gags.  Plus, Pegg's character is a likable, and Kate Beckinsale isn't trying to effect an American accent, so she's actually good in it.

The sum of the parts may not be much, but what's there occasionally works well enough that it's worth a watch.  I think the best way to watch this movie is under the exact circumstances I approached it: no expectations, discovering who's in it entirely by surprise, and with at least a couple cocktails already in your guts.

It's not the groundbreaking comedy that the superstar team behind it would lead you to believe - but then again, superstar teams never live up to expectations.  Nobody gives a shit about an original press of Band Aid, right?  So, forget all that and just enjoy the parts that work.  Like, say, scrape a couple of those layers off and don't eat the frosting, and it's not that bad of a cake.

My Rating: 3.5 / 5