Simon Pegg and Kate Beckinsale head up an awful sci-fi comedy from Terry Jones
Simon Pegg continues his wretched form when it comes to British comedies not helmed by Edgar Wright. This latest effort, co-written and directed by the once great Terry Jones, ranks alongside Run Fatboy Run and Hector and the Search for Happiness for sheer awfulness. Bar the occasional faint-smile-raising line, just about every gag, set-piece or quip meets with dead-eyed, stony silence.
Pegg plays Neil Clarke, a singleton teacher who lives with his dog Dennis and fantasises about his downstairs neighbour, book editor Catherine (Kate Beckinsale). Meanwhile, in outer space, an intergalactic council of gnarly aliens are all set to destroy Earth; but due process means they must first bestow absolute power on one Earthling for ten days to see if he or she can do good. Chosen at random, Neil is given these particularly pedantic genie-like abilities.
With the CGI aliens all voiced by Jones’ former Python colleagues (John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam, joining Jones himself), this sketchy reunion should be far funnier than it is. Truly, the film lives and dies by Neil’s wishes, as he realises he can do whatever he likes. Neil standing in front of the mirror wishing for a big penis, looking down, then asking if he can have one in white, is one of the funnier moments, if you can believe that.
He also gives his dog the ability to talk (brought to life by the late Robin Williams, in one of his less memorable voice performances). Mostly, though, Neil uses his powers to romance Catherine, putting him at loggerheads with her obnoxious ex Grant (Rob Riggle). It’s all pretty schoolboy stuff – typified by Jones’ cameo as a driver rather enjoying being told to 'screw you' by Neil. It’d be very sad if this is the last Python collaboration to hit screens.
General release from Fri 14 Aug.