Friday, October 27, 2017

Absolutely Anything (2015)

I can forgive a lot of things when it comes to movies.  Using an idea that someone else has used isn’t the worst sin you can commit.  When you get down to it, each film has elements of previous stories in it.  What I will judge a movie on is what it adds to the idea.  If you’re going to remake a movie, why should someone watch yours rather than the original?  Absolutely Anything isn’t really a remake of Bruce Almighty, but does have a lot in common.  Both are about men who are given unlimited powers.  Whereas Bruce Nolan gained his powers as a result of challenging God, Neil Clarke gained his as a result of aliens wanting to test humanity.

When several aliens find one of the Voyager probes, they travel to Earth to destroy it, but decide to at least give us a shot at redemption.  One human will be selected randomly and given the ability to do absolutely anything, even if it’s not normally possible.  That one random human is a school teacher named Neil Clarke.  If Neil can use his powers for good, humanity survives.  If he uses the ability for evil, Earth gets roasted.  Oh, and the aliens don’t tell Neil about it at all.  He’s left to figure out he has powers all on his own.  No pressure.

Somehow, Neil manages to figure out about his powers rather quickly.  We’d all like to think that we’d use such powers to better humanity.  Instead, Neil uses them for all manner of random things.  Many of the gags are one-of jokes, usually involving the literalness with which the wishes are rendered.  In one scene, Neil wishes for the body of a great man and is made to look like Albert Einstein.  In another, he destroys his classroom.  When he wishes for everyone to be alive again, long-dead people start coming out of their graves.

Few of them last more than one scene.  He has a friend, Ray, who is interested in a woman that ignores him.  Neil makes the woman worship Ray, leading to a cult.  The cult then proceeds to chase Ray all over town.  Neil also realizes that he can give his dog intelligence and a voice.  This leads to the obligatory embarrassing scenes with love-interest Catherine.

There really isn’t anything new in this movie.  If you’ve seen similar movies, I don’t think you’re going to find any surprises.  Neil gets the powers and eventually realizes how hard it is to use them, even when he does try to help people.  The difference here is that his epiphany comes very late in the movie.  It ends up being a string of situations that Neil fumbles with before feeling regret and maybe getting it somewhat close to right.

Part of the problem is that there’s only so much you can do with such a concept.  You can do what The Greatest American Hero did and have a guy who genuinely wants to help people.  Or you can do what Absolutely Anything did and just use it as a way to string scenes together.  Yes, that’s kind of harsh, but it’s true.  There was some potential here and it seems somewhat wasted.

It’s also worth noting that this was the final movie for Robin Williams, who voiced Neil’s dog.  I didn’t think that Williams was as high strung as he usually was, which by itself is a bit of a waste.  He was a little hyper, like you’d expect a dog to be.  I felt like he didn’t have as much screen time as I would have liked.  It ended up being Simon Pegg’s show.  If you come across this on Netflix, I would recommending holding off on it until you’re absolutely out of other movies.

No comments :