Directed and Co-Written by Terry Jones, starring the voices of the remaining members of Monty Python, as well as Robin Williams, voicing a dog in his final ever film role, with Simon Pegg as the lead, this is a film that has an awful lot of goodwill aimed its way.
The premise itself, aliens given one random person the power to do and make anything happen, to deem whether Earth should be blown up or not, is fairly fun. It’s basically what would happen if the Vogons gave Arthur Dent the power to do whatever he wanted instead of just blowing up the planet. The Hitchhikers comparisons are evident, Python and Douglas Adams share similar humour, so the influences are oddball and weird.
Yet, this is a film that feels outdated and unoriginal, its humour is lowest common denominator and witless. It’s filled with great comedians, yes, but even Simon Pegg looks old, he’s an actor who belongs to a modern age, his films with Edgar Wright (The Cornetto trilogy) are some of the best comedies of recent years, but here he looks tired, like he’s only doing it because of the people involved.
He is only funny when its down to his performance, occasionally giving a funny line delivery or mannerism which reminds us exactly why he’s so great. The same is almost said about Robin Williams, sometimes he might deliver a line in a great way, but his usual wonderful energy is stifled by a lack of jokes and just a lot of leg humping gags.
It does have a few laughs, sometimes at the absurdity of the situations, Sanjeev Bhaskar gets turned into a sausage and Pegg gets defensive when he’s accused of stealing it from a rack of them. It’s not highbrow, and its best gags can’t approach the worst gags of the best comedies, sometimes it is utterly cringeworthy, notably with a specific taxi driver in one moment, but I laughed a couple times.
Also, it is fairly old hat when approaching gender roles, Pegg is the everyman schlub who tries to get the girl downstairs (Kate Beckinsale) to love him, whilst she spurns the advances of her crazy awful ex boyfriend (Rob Riggle), it simply again treats women like objects, although in the end it tries to lump for a moral, you can’t be selfish with almighty power, message but ultimately does nothing to make you like or care about the characters or their relationships.
The idea is done fairly nicely, the scenes with Pegg just doing stuff with his power is quite interesting, then it cuts to Beckinsale chatting with her gal pal about guys whilst they drink wine and jog (cause of course, that’s what all women do) and you yearn to be back with Pegg as he commands dog poo to chuck itself down the toilet.
You have other famous faces showing up, Joanna Lumley makes a complete non appearance that has zero point, in the 10 seconds she shares screen time with Beckinsale, whilst Eddie Izzard, also looking too old to play such broad comedy, is passingly funny, when under Peggs influence to be nice to him.
The direction is standard, the CG ugly (the aliens are nicely designed), the films signature song, sung by Kylie Minogue was bizarre but fitting in with the film’s outdated style. Pegg is game, the Monty Python gang seem to enjoy playing bickering aliens and its nice to just hear Robin Williams again.
Which brings me to the best bit of the film, as the credits roles, just as I was about to leave, we got a 30 second segment of Robin Williams recording his voice for the film, which was a wonderful pleasure, even as he got the last line in the film “Nobodies perfect”, it made me smile more than the preceding 80 minutes.
In the end this is a film that doesn’t work outside of its own terms, it has a few chuckles and a strong cast, but it feels outdated. With gags about leg humping and walking poo, I guess, for this defeating comedy, anything goes. I wouldn’t say it was awful, but I can’t say it was good.
Rating: C 4/10