Starring: Graham Chapman, Philip Bulcock, John Cleese
Distributed by: Brainstorm Media
Running Time: 85 minutes
Genres: Comedy, Animation, 3D
Graham Chapman, probably best remembered as 'the dead one from Monty Python', writes and stars in the animated movie of his own life story, A Liar's Autobiography. Although Chapman selfishly dropped dead in 1989, he had taken the trouble to record himself reading his book, A Liar's Autobiography - and those recordings have now ingeniously been used to provide Chapman's voice for the 3D animated feature of the same name. Fellow Pythons John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam also turn up, playing themselves and other characters, along with a few surprise guests. Not a documentary, not a Monty Python film, A Liar's Autobiography is Chapman's own take on his bizarre life and his search for self-knowledge. Incredible, yes. Surreal, certainly. True, who knows? -- (C) Official Site
A Liar's Autobiography - The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman
A Liar’s Autobiography, a loose adaptation of late Monty Python star Graham Chapman’s 1980 memoir, is a fiendish concoction indeed, utilising audio recordings of the book made by Chapman prior to his death, played over an aesthetic which smatters together 14 different animated styles, mimicking the likes of South Park, Monkey Dust, cel-shaded video games and faux-claymation. What’s more, it’s in 3D, making its unorthodox visual presentation all that more striking.
Simply, fans of Python will be very much at home here, the troupe’s unique brand of absurdism penetrating right through the snappy 82-minute runtime. It also sees the Python lot at their most wickedly crude, with the likes of phallic roller-coasters and talking piles of vomit frequently littering the screen. Chapman’s barmy narratives include detailing everything that brought him to Monty Python, telling a number of scarcely believable yarns about his time at Cambridge University as well as the making of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and riffing on countless subjects in popular culture, namely the relevance of Freud (who is voiced here, incredulously, by Cameron Diaz), religion, the Queen Mother, and gay culture. Surprisingly, it also finds room to be affecting when exploring Chapman’s rampant alcoholism, if ultimately confessing that it probably contributed to his success to a moderate extent.
If you’re one of the initiated, this is pretty much everything it needs to be, and the spirited voice-over work from the majority of Chapman’s Python colleagues certainly doesn’t hurt things. Otherwise, a lot of the fun comes from trying to anticipate when directors Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson and Ben Timlett are going to effortlessly slalom between animation styles – as well as clips of classic Python – which they do with an ingenious seamlessness.
To summarise what the film means proves rather difficult; perhaps it is best summarised by a moving final clip of Chapman’s funeral, as John Cleese drops one last gag about his old friend. Nevertheless, this is quite clearly a film made with the mindset that the Python gang can get away with much more now than they could have decades ago, and it takes full advantage of that. Of course, if you’re not into Python, this will ostensibly do little for you; it’s unapologetically scattershot, but for the subject’s fans, bound to be absolutely hilarious.