Liar's Autobiography [Blu-ray]
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Graham Chapman, probably best remembered as 'the dead one from Monty Python', writes and stars in the story, 'A Liar's Autobiography'. He was born, he went to Cambridge and met John Cleese, he smoked a pipe, he became a doctor, he became a Python, he decided he was gay (well, 70/30, according to a survey he did on himself), he got drunk a lot, he stopped being drunk, he made some films, he had some sex (actually, a lot), and moved to Los Angeles. Finally, he was whisked up into space by aliens (although that might have been in a film). 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.
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Top Customer Reviews
The film was made by several animation houses and varies stylistically. That's interesting and adds to the surrealism of the film, but what turned me off about the movie was the focus on the roles of sex and drinking in Graham's life. Don't get me wrong, I think it would have been dishonest not to deal with these significant issues at all, but the film emphasizes them so much that it becomes boring, which is the worst thing you can do to a movie of any sort. There is so much material that's pure gold in the book that was not dealt with here that could have made this into a more balanced and entertaining feature had the editorial bent been somewhat different. The DVD does contain some valuable extras, the most significant of which is a 47-minute documentary on Graham with interviews from all the Pythons and some interesting archival clips. On that basis I give the package three stars; I liked some of it, disliked some of it, and was bored by some of it, but Monty Python fans will largely embrace it, as will fans of animation. If you really want to get to know Graham, though, a better course of action is reading the book instead.
There are no subtitles, but many extras; 47 minutes of a documentary on Chapman, which will explain his life and style to those who do not know of him and solve any muddles that someone might have. There are also behind the scenes excerpts and a theatrical trailer.
There is some explicit adult humor in here and it includes Chapman's decision to reveal that he was "mostly gay".
Fans of Graham Chapman, Monty Python and the wonderful world they inhabit will enjoy this film.
Part of this film's surreal sense comes from the fact that Chapman narrated it himself - more than twenty years after his death. He left a wealth of recordings describing his life, and those form the main narration (except for a few moments, like Cameron Diaz's rendering of Sigmund Freud).
Nearly all of the imagery is new, however. A few historical film clips appear, like John Cleese's hilarious eulogy, but nearly all of it's animated. And what animation! Chapman appears as Oscar Wilde in a puppet-like passage, his debauches appear in a stiking first-person view, his worst days of detox come to life in nightmare textures and tones, his family relations as a teen come back in drolly satirical renderings. Given the the complexity of Chapman's life, any one style would have under-served him badly.
It certainly helps to be a Monty Python fan, but don't treat that as requisite. This movie offers plenty to anyone who appreciates animation, and to anyone who wants to know more about this brilliant man.