was the one with the pipe. Graham Chapman
could be as silly as any of the Pythons, but only he had the noble bearing to
portray King Arthur, the would-be messiah Brian Cohen, and a battalion of
aristocratic British military officers.
He also played the title role in Yellowbeard,
but nobody’s perfect. Indeed, that could
be the mantra of Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson & Ben Timlett’s A Liar’s Autobiography: the Untrue Story of
Monty Python’s Graham Chapman (trailer here), a hyperkinetic
kitchen sink of an animated biography, which opens in 3D this Friday,
day-and-date with its 2D premiere on Epix.
of Jones (son of Terry) & Timlett’s Monty Python: Almost the Truth will know Chapman was the tragic Python, who struggled
with substance and sex addictions, before succumbing to cancer at the terribly
early age of forty-eight. Chapman was
also perfectly open, if rather ambivalent, about his sexuality. Such a dramatic life offers plenty of grist
for a biopic treatment and it all in Liar’s
different animation houses using seventeen different animation styles
illustrate the events of Chapman’s life, as narrated by the subject himself from
the memoir that would inspire the film.
Given the relatively brevity and rapid succession of each constituent
episode, it is hard to keep them all straight. At least, they proceed in a
somewhat orderly narrative fashion, depicting Chapman as a rather macabre baby
(not unlike Seth Macfarlane’s Stewie), a precocious student, and as one of the
gaggle of monkeys co-founding Monty Python.
thread is easier to follow in his early years, though Autobiography is still prone to distraction, even dramatizing one
of the Biggles war stories (strikingly rendered by Made Visual Studio) that
captivated young Chapman. However, by
the time Autobiography reaches Treat
Studios’ Space Pods, the connection
to reality has been gleefully severed.
greatest irony of Autobiography is
that its biggest laughs and greatest emotional payoff comes from the real-life-honest-to-gosh
video of John Cleese’s eulogy for Chapman, in which he promises to avoid “mindless
good taste.” Most of the Pythons are
represented in Autobiography, playing
themselves as well as other co-conspirators and innocent bystanders. Fans will be delighted to hear honorary Python
Carol Cleveland turns up for old time’s sake too. Bizarrely, Cameron Diaz, who also used to
famous once, supplies the voice of Freund.
However, Eric Idle is MIA, though his song “Sit on My Face” gets the
full “Blame Canada” Busby Berkley treatment.
You don’t walk out of Autobiography, you stagger.
While the 3D is characteristically hit or miss, the film[s] bombards the
audience with wacky, tripped out imagery.
At times, it is almost too much, but it least it scrupulously observes
Chapman’s wishes regarding gratuitous good taste. You have to give its spirit proper due. Recommended more for the fanatical Python fan
than the causal viewer (quick, what is the air-speed velocity of an unladen
swallow?), A Liar’s Autobiography will
be the first 3D release to play at the Angelika Film Center when it opens this
Friday (11/2) in New York, simultaneous with its 2D broadcast on Epix.
Labels: 3D films, Animated films, Graham Chapman, Monty Python