Absolutely Anything movie full length review - Amusing but fails to exploit its full potential
"Absolutely Anything" has its moments, but feels a couple of rewrites shy of a final draft.
It's great to have the former Monty Python cast members together again voicing CGI aliens and they have some of the funniest lines. Pegg's performance isn't his best, but is adequate. Beckinsale did as well as can be expected with the material she was given. Her professional life seems much more three-dimensional than her romantic relationships. Riggle has some of the film's better comedic moments.
There must be dozens of versions of a joke about a guy who is granted wishes by a færie or leprechaun who is hard of hearing or takes things literally and the wish becomes a curse. The gag is used on numerous occasions here and usually to good effect; however, it might have been nice to explore other variations on the theme. The film also seems to miss out on some 1-2-3 punches. There's the sequence of wishes that are interpreted literally and Neil (Pegg) makes a series of wishes toward the end that have unexpected consequences. But even when they throw in a 1-2-3 punch, like the gag before the mirror, there is no escalation, only variations of the same gag. There's a crazed romantic encounter between Neil and Catherine (Beckinsale) that abruptly cuts to the next morning instead of mining the situation for humor. At one point, the aliens examine brief clips of life on earth and despair over the lack of culture. The clips look as they were culled from YouTube. As the aliens were voiced by Python alumni, I would have loved to see clips from their old series instead. Watching, I felt there were a lot of missed opportunities.
It feels as if there are some loose threads that were meant to be tied together concerning a conflict at Catherine's office, Neil's dream and his novel.
The aliens have an amusing motive for wanting to destroy the planet, but their motive for giving Neil unlimited powers as a way of allowing one randomly selected earthling to prove the planet's mettle is a bit murky. Did they contemplate granting others such powers if Neil proved himself worthy? He doesn't need god-like powers to prove his mettle.
Neil is able to undo his mistakes, literally with a wave of his hand. Consequently, there isn't much risk involved and the stakes don't escalate because he doesn't need to constantly deal with the consequences of his prior miscalculations.
From the outset, Neil's ambitions seem very modest. There is a decent scene at the horse races where he discusses the banality and futility of materialistic wishes. Ray (Bhaskar) suggests they could make any woman they want fall in love with them. They could have turned all the women at the races into sex-crazed seductresses, but they content themselves with telling rather than showing.
On the other hand, they pulled out all the stops for a few scenes, such as one involving zombies. The alien spacecraft is wonderfully designed and vaguely reminiscent of the final scene in "Men in Black" in its relativity theme.
Overall, it's an amusing comedy with some very good moments, but never quite lives up to its full potential. It's definitely worth viewing, but unlikely to displace movies like "Blazing Saddles," "Paul" or "The Hangover" from anybody's list of favorite comedies.