I would recommend that you see absolutely anything else.
And that’s coming from a Python fan! On paper, Pegg and the Pythons spelled perfection. Pull the other one!
A group of eccentric aliens confer a human being (Simon Pegg) with the power to do absolutely anything as an experiment.
After watching the Monty Python reunion at the O2 arena, I was a little anxious about their latest offering. The old gags felt stale and the gang just didn’t deliver for me. I understand that they couldn’t reach that level of energy and eccentricity (Come on, they’re in their seventies) BUT at least they used to be funny. Tragically that rut has continued.
The premise was pretty much a British take on Bruce Almighty. BUT even that fell short by comparison. The flat opening really didn’t get things going.
The Pythons provided their voicing gravitas to the aliens. It was silly enough but far too tame as they translated their alien names into female ones and bickered about destroying Planet Earth.
Pegg certainly carried this lead balloon as much as he could and was a likeable lead. Once he got his powers, things really got into the flow. Shame that the momentum couldn’t stick. BUT I was entertained for a good twenty minutes.
Pegg’s bathroom body enhancements had me howling. Hang on. Let me rephrase that. The fact he asks for the body of a great man and turns into Albert Einstein delivered the silly chuckle. And a gag involving the changing of one’s appendage was unexpected but dropped a cracking punch line.
All the little jokes from the dog mess cleaning itself up to Pegg’s mate getting his own cult, ticked the boxes but it just wasn’t enough. Maybe I expected too much after growing up with the Python movies and TV shows. The Holy Grail and Life of Brian were iconic comedy classics. BUT this? Dreadful. The rest of the gags and set pieces were ridiculous, corny and stupid for all the wrong reasons.
The stunning Kate Beckinsale did her best with her role but the love subplot with Pegg was too bland and nauseating to care about. Sanjeev Bhaskar didn’t do a bad job as Pegg’s best friend and tried to keep things watchable.
Joanna Lumley was terrible in her cameo. You know you’re onto a loser when Ab Fab’s Patsy can’t save the day. The idea of a book critic grilling authors for scandal and ratings over intellect and culture may have sounded good on paper (In fact it doesn’t). BUT the finished result certainly wasn’t and by the end you wondered why her character was even involved.
There was a saving grace with the late but always great Robin Williams as Dennis the dog. He was hilarious. Meshing all sorts of crazy voices including a spot of the old Doubtfire. The canine’s obsession with biscuits and running commentary on any passing thought that popped in his head delivered the much needed laughs.
Eddie Izzard wasn’t in this enough as the Headmaster. He delivered with the tiny tidbits he was given. While Rob Riggle, on the other hand, was in it far too much. Normally you could bank on the chap to deliver the goods after his appearances in Step Brothers and Let’s Be Cops. But this time around, he was irritating and highly unfunny.
It didn’t help that the divide between the Pythons and Eric Idle was so obvious. Even as an alien, Idle was separate from the team. Whether it was meant to be a joke in itself baffled me. He even had his own skit as a racist skeleton. You read that right. I don’t know if I made that sound better or worse.
The tone was all over the place. It was macabre in one sequence. A joke about Pegg’s classroom blowing up certainly delivered the shock factor with a surprise asteroid attack. BUT in the next frame, we had people running around London with webbed feet and big fluffy ears. It felt like the gang suddenly realised that the film was supposed to be a 12A and watered it down. Killing off the last 30 minutes. The last 30 minutes of an 86 minute film.
I knew it was always going to fall short of the iconic Life of Brian and Holy Grail BUT I expected so much more. For good portions of the film, I was bored or cringing at how dire the gags really were.
Disappointed would be an overstatement. Pegg and the cast do their best and there were some laughs to be had BUT it was all for nothing. One star for the cast and one for the jokes that did tickle me.