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A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story Of Monty Python's Graham Chapman 3D (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byJennifer Tate07/02/2013

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 85 mins

A Liar’s Autobiography pays a tribute to Graham Chapman, but Monty Python fans will feel a little cheated, thanks to the black comedy’s lack of comic value and exhausting animations.

What’s it all about?
Directed by Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson and Ben Timlett, A Liar’s Autobiography is an animated and embellished biography of the late Monty Python star, Graham Chapman. Using audio footage of Chapman reading his book, A Liar’s Autobiography, Jones, Simpson and Timlett present a biopic, which although is factually incorrect, draws on different themes and events from Graham’s life. Fellow Pythons Terry Jones, John Cleese, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam and surprise guests like Cameron Diaz also star, lending their voices to this bizarre and slightly surreal film, which pays homage to a man well known for his unique sense of humour, sexual preference and long relationship with the bottle.

The Good
Although not strictly true, A Liar’s Autobiography marks the reunion of Chapman with Cleese, Jones, Palin and Gilliam for the first time in 23 years and as a tribute it’s a worthy one, paying testament to Chapman’s achievement and talent, whilst also painting a portrait of his flamboyant personality. Those unfamiliar with Chapman might come away feeling like they’ve learnt something, thanks to the film’s archival footage of Chapman interviews and detailed portraits of the various struggles in his life, along with his interesting upbringing. Despite the fact that everything is exaggerated and twisted, Jones, Simpson and Timlett still present a sense of underlying truth and so thankfully the whole film doesn’t feel like an entire waste of time.

The Bad
Unfortunately, there’s something about A Liar’s Autobiography that doesn’t quite feel right. Despite it arguably attempting to keep in line with the comic pattern and tone of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, A Liar’s Autobiography skips between so many different short stories and anecdotes at such a fast pace, it can all feel a little exhausting and it’s not entirely clear which bits are supposed to be particularly amusing or funny. The best parts of the film are the archival footage of Chapman talking in interviews and a touching shot of Cleese delivering Chapman’s eulogy; however, these scenes simply don’t last long enough and Monty Python fans will be no doubt feel a little short changed. Finally, the wide range of different animation styles doesn’t particularly flow well and Cameron Diaz’s cameo as Sigmund Freud feels forced and is generally unfunny.

Worth seeing?
Thanks to a comic shortage and fatiguing animations, A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman just misses the mark. Nevertheless, Monty Python fans should still enjoy, providing they lower expectations.

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Content updated: 25/07/2014 09:19

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