I'm a big fan of the Pythons but before watching this pretty much all I knew about Graham Chapman's life was that he was an alcoholic and gay. Sadly, after watching the film, that still seems to be pretty much all there was to him.
A series of animation teams take us through Chapman's life from birth to death and with varying degrees of success, all with Chapman's narration. The visuals are mostly good and help to keep interest but anyone looking for insight will be disappointed. A self-indulgent sequence about Chapman's drinking withdrawal covers well-trodden ground and the repeated jokes about penises and ejaculation soon wear thin. OK, he was gay - we get it! The directors make the mistake of trying to be Pythonesque but nearly all the gags fall flat, while the storytelling gets lost and the timeline muddled. Chapman was a great performer and writer, but you wouldn't know it from this, which moves his art largely to 3rd place behind alcohol and being gay. A writing trip with Cleese seems happy to say Cleese did all the hard work on their projects while the sort of roles that gave Chapman the Hollywood lifestyle are brushed over.
Perhaps a better approach would have been to include archive footage and new materials, to explain things and provide context and perspective. Ultimately, this is just an unsatisfying film from some well-meaning Python fanboys.
3 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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