A movie review of "A Liar's Autobiography — The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman," a 3D animated feature about the late Monty Python's Graham Chapman, featuring the voices of Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and Cameron Diaz (as Sigmund Freud).
Monty Python’s Graham Chapman was 48 when he died of cancer in 1989. But according to the trailer for this 3D memoir, which was recently screened at the Toronto and London film festivals, it’s “the best film I’ve been in since I died.”
Of course, as the full title suggests, you can’t believe anything Chapman says these days. He did, however, leave behind quite a bit of recorded material, and now it’s been assembled as the soundtrack for an animated biopic that is sometimes far from comic.
Much of the visual material (some of it graphic) illustrates his story of growing up gay in a homophobic environment during World War II and later. He has affairs with boys, and sometimes with females, and eventually settles down with a lifetime male partner (who disappears for long stretches with no explanation).
Along the way, Chapman acquires some nasty vices, including an addiction to gin, which leads to a withdrawal period that nearly kills him. Perhaps even worse is a name-dropping fetish that threatens to turn him into a cousin of Terence Stamp’s haunted celebrity in Fellini’s “Toby Dammit.”
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Aside from the gin drying-out episode, which is pure nightmare, Chapman and the animators maintain a sense of humor. There’s grotesque comedy even in the war scenes and the coming-out episodes (Chapman recalls having to explain homosexuality to a baffled Keith Moon) and there are hints of such Python classics as “Christmas in Heaven” and the parrot sketch.
The British animators, including Peepshow Collective, Treat Studios, Superfad and Not to Scale, do an imaginative job without imitating the Python animation style. It’s sometimes a mishmash, though never an unwelcome one.
John Hartl: firstname.lastname@example.org