A Liar's Autobiography (2013)

by Stefan Pape

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“To say I left underwhelmed and disappointed is a severe understatement...”

As one of millions of members of the Great British public who admire and savour every little thing comedy group Monty Python ever produced, it's fair to say I had been anticipating A Liar's Autobiography greatly as what is an animated adaptation of Graham Chapman's factually incorrect autobiography. However – and despite being co-directed by Bill Jones (son of Terry), to say I left underwhelmed and disappointed is a severe understatement.

Jones, alongside Jeff Simpson and Ben Timlett have brought the fantasy biography of Chapman to the big screen, as we delve in close to the life of one of the founding members of the radical comedy collective. Narrated by Chapman himself – thanks to recordings he had made prior to his death in 1989 – we witness, through a series differently styled animations, the comedians upbringing and professional career through somewhat askew glasses (3D, in this case), looking at real themes that affected him such as homosexuality and his relationship with his parents, but doing so with added enchantment, and as the title reveals – the majority of this is one big fat lie.

Although admiring the concept and idea behind A Liar's Autobiography, it's one that would have been of benefit to us all had it simply stayed in someone's head. The film is just a shambles, one big mess that has no narrative cohesion or order of any kind. That is supposedly the point, but nonetheless it doesn't work in the slightest, as we are presented with a film lacking in any form of wit or emotion, devoid of overall meaning somewhat. The animation itself isn't particularly nice to look at either, as it chops and changes continuously, and it hurts your eyes if you look long enough. As a five minute short perhaps this would be okay, but by the time you reach the hour mark you just want it to stop.

The biggest criticism of the feature, however, is how unfunny it is. Monty Python are funny when not even meaning to be, as a group that give off the impression that it's actually harder to be unfunny than it is to make people laugh, so it comes as a surprise and a disappointment to see all of their names on board. Aside from Eric Idle, who must have seen sense. It's not just me who feels this way either, the dull, tedious nature to this film extends to the audience as over the entire painstaking 85 minutes this feature lasts, not one slight giggle could be heard from the packed cinema.

It's a huge shame because this film had so much potential, and Chapman's life is fascinating and devastating in equal measure, and had this been done well it could be an intriguing piece of cinema. Chapman had an unhealthy affliction towards alcohol and cigarettes and although we touch upon these themes briefly in A Liar's Autobiography, it doesn't actually serve them any justice.

Fingers crossed one day we may see a more definitive documentary or biopic about this great man, because the way things stand, it's a terrible shame to even associate this movie with such a treasured comic talent.





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