Cheap, but natural laughs in “Absolutely Anything”
Director: Terry Jones
Written by: Jeanne Edson
Okay, this will likely sound quite cheesy, but read me out. Take just a moment to imagine that somehow, out of all the millions of people on our little green planet, YOU were selected to hold the incredible and terrifying power to make absolutely anything happen. Just a wave of your hand, and POOF. But you’re just a tiny pawn in an experiment for trigger-happy aliens; your decisions have far-reaching consequences as choices made for good or evil will seal the fate of Earth and all its inhabitants. Still want to test the limits of your self-control?
As fate would have it, you don’t have to take up that burden. Instead, it’s left to struggling novelist and teacher Niel (Simon Pegg) in the 2015 film Absolutely Anything. Much like Bruce Almighty before it, Absolutely Anything charmingly follows an everyman who’s granted God-like potential but still struggles to actually achieve what he really wants in life — and never manages to truly look beyond his selfish needs to the largest issues facing the human race (hello, global warming). Chosen at random, Niel is selected to hold all the power in the universe, allowing him to raise the dead (unwittingly), create a religious cult of stalkers (unwittingly), and (most wisely) give his scruffy dog the ability to speak (voiced by Robin Williams in his final film role before his death). Niel is carefully monitored by a collection of CGI aliens voiced by Monty Python alums John Cheese, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam, all rooting for Earth’s immediate (semi-justified) destruction.
It’s a wacky scenario created by director Terry Jones but not one that feels tired or totes a much higher meaning. Simon Pegg gives humanity to his character’s messy situation and the laughs, although simple, feel natural. His search to improve his love life with the woman downstairs, Catherine (Kate Beckinsale) but not overtake her free will dominates much of the movie’s 85 minute run time. Catherine, while in a position of comedic potential, is unfortunately underused. Instead, Niel and her overly possessive ex battle for her attention as if she was a prize to be won. More goes wrong than right as Neil attempts to woo Catherine and get a handle on his newly recognized powers that are intensely literal. Like Neil complains in a pointed line “Absolute power doesn’t corrupt. It will just drive you bloody mad!”