Documentary Film Review: A LIAR’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY: THE UNTRUE STORY OF MONTY PYTHON’S GRAHAM CHAPMAN IN 3D (directed by Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson, and Ben Timlett)

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by Jesse David Corti on October 29, 2012

in Film

LIFE OF GRAHAM IS NOT A DOCUMENTARY; NOR IS IT A GOOD FILM

The appropriately but un-succinctly titled A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman in 3D (or any D for that matter) is dead on arrival. Its inventive approach to employ seventeen distinctive animation styles sounds promising but soon grows tiresome. Overall, the production—apart from the archival footage of the Pythons—is an un-funny, un-insightful 82 minutes of episodic, anarchic tomfoolery masquerading as a film, failing as a documentary, and more tedious than its running time would suggest.

Jesse David Corti’s Stage and Cinema review of the film A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman

If one truly swoons and longs for Graham Chapman, one would be better served with the eponymous titled audiobook (their source material for this project—and where they extracted his voice to provide the film’s narration). But even that lacks engaging insight, because of its half-true/half-fiction stylized memoir format. If one is looking for another Monty Python stone to turn over—leave this one be. The documentary Almost The Truth (Lawyer’s Cut) covers more ground with more depth (and honesty), about the entirety of the Python clan before, during, and after their time together. Notably absent from Liar’s is Python alum Eric Idle. He alone deserves the applause for bowing out of this undeserving project.

Jesse David Corti’s Stage and Cinema review of the film A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman

The film chronicles Graham Chapman’s life from a boy growing up in wartime Britain (WWII) all the way through the funeral service where John Cleese gives the moving and humorous eulogy for his fallen friend who is “no more.” And while it includes Chapman’s struggles with alcoholism, well-meaning ignorant parents, sexual orientation, and sexual promiscuity, it never dives further than the surface of these issues. Instead of delving into the torment and toil of addiction and repression, or the power of recovery and the courage of honest living, it provides a continual sketchy dreamscape of his fantasy life and musings. This may have been enjoyable if it were funnier, or engaging if it were artful.

Jesse David Corti’s Stage and Cinema review of the film A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman

One sequence that will continue to be talked about is the inclusion of Cameron Diaz voicing Dr. Sigmund Freud, providing psychoanalysis on Mr. Chapman. The scene’s humor is briefly funny, yet maintains the film’s constancy: Start funny, belabor the joke, carry on tediously, mention sex and/or alcohol, hang on an ending for said segment, and repeat the process. Liar’s makes the choice to be flippant, lugubrious, and juvenile. Directors Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson, and Ben Timlett offer an underwhelming, overindulgent, dull coda to the legacy of Graham Chapman. It reduces a man of many dimensions to a singular monotonous, moronic, bloody rotten one. If one wishes to always look on the bright side of life, they would be wise to look the other way if faced with this film and stick with The Truth instead of Liar’s.

Jesse David Corti’s Stage and Cinema review of the film A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman

A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman
presented by EPIX and Brainstorm Media in association with Trinity
in limited release and on EPIX November 2, 2012
running time: 82 minutes; rating: not rated
for more information, visit: http://www.projectchapman3d.com/

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