Absolutely Anything (2015)
With great power comes total irresponsibility.
From watching a trailer when I first found out about this movie, I got the general gist that it was going to be something along the lines of Bruce Almighty, except with aliens instead of god. I enjoyed that movie just fine, so I figured that surely something similar with both Simon Pegg and the voice of Robin Williams in it couldn't be any worse off. Besides that, it's also fun to respond to "what are you watching" with Absolutely Anything, so make sure to drink something at your own caution while the movie is in motion and find out what it's like to have supreme power.
The original premise I gathered from the trailer holds up pretty well through the movie, although it starts in different positions. The movie mainly follows Pegg's character who is gifted powers by aliens to see if the planet is worth not destroying, but there's also a decent amount of time spent on his romantic interest and her troubles. It's an absurd story path for sure - person getting the ability to make anything happen that they want - but does enough to differentiate itself from Bruce Almighty to keep it feeling somewhat fresh. As opposed to knowing why he has the ability, our main character in this is absolutely clueless about it and in turn doesn't really have that background nagging to do good or fill in anybody's shoes. This allows the story to proceed in a seemingly fluid fashion, without any forced morality into it as any that arises feels like it specifically comes up from the results of things he's caused throughout the movie.
The other charming addition in a decent portion of the movie is the dog Dennis, who serves as a bit of a comedic sidekick in a movie where almost everyone at some point or another offers up the service at some point. The thing about the dog compared to the others, however, is that the dog isn't really tethered to the wants of humans, and in turn is probably the stronger of the companion characters - acting much like a dog would even when granted the ability to talk and rationally think. This leads to some good lines, but also has the added effect of allowing that blind loyalty of the dog to shine through and help bring about some events later on. Of all the characters, the aliens probably serve the least as far as on-screen necessity outside of the power-giving and judgement process.
Of course, the aliens still look quite good, as do a good portion of effects going on in the movie. There's certainly some during the body-wished segment that look worse than others (with one looking admittedly pretty bad), but considering the amount of talking dog, things popping in or out of existence, and other whimsical stuff that happens I can totally overlook one spot of looking bad. My guess would be that it was a good mix of practical and not, and there are some moments that are genuinely easy to say they could have been done either way or both. There are also some great space shots, which although perhaps not the hardest thing to make that way do look quite pretty.
Of course, there's really two things that matter when it comes to a comedy - and part of the joke comes down to delivery. In that regard, actors here do a great job, with Pegg doing a large portion of the joke delivery being the main character, but still managing reasonable reactions to things as they happen. William's voice coming out of the dog in combination with the lines being as simple and straight-forward as they are (even if being as crude as leg-humping jokes) brings a certain level of charm that I'm not entirely sure isn't at least partially impacted by some nostalgia from hearing the man's voice in so many movies whilst growing up. On the other end of the acting spectrum, Beckinsale does a pretty good job of being serious most the time she's on screen and it's called for, but even then does a good job of livening her scenes up when the moment calls for it.
Of course, the other part of the comedy is usually the joke itself. If something just isn't funny, a lot of times it won't matter how you deliver it. In this regard, it's going to be a mixed bag - for example, some might be laughing up a storm over leg-humping jokes, while others might scoff at it. A good portion of the jokes of course center around the alien-power given to the main character in a very cause-and-effect sort of way. Things ranging from raunchy to effects driven to timing, there's a little bit of everything in there. Of course, there's also some off-color comedy in there that I'm sure someone will decide to be all disgruntled over because they "can't take a joke" - but I'll admit that I laughed at the "now make it white" joke regardless of how crude it may have been.
Of course, consequences aren't generally without their serious undertones - even though the movie does a wonderful job of keeping a sort of levity about everything to stop you from getting too wrapped up in anything. Wanting a person to worship you turning into a cult following that wants you to demonstrate your powers by killing yourself and returning from the dead isn't exactly something that's going to happen everyday, but it's a great example of how things can really escalate. Even things unrelated to the powers present in Beckinsale's parts - such as a higher up trying to coerce her to sleep with him to climb up the chain or an incredibly nutty weapons-grade stalker of a one night stand - could speak of all manner of social things if you'd like to look into it, but don't necessarily feel as though they are there to be forced down your throat over what the movie has to offer in the enjoyment department.
I had a blast watching this movie. It's not overly long, delivers it's jokes and it's morals and plots all in a nice and fluid manner, and delivers a wide range of humor (although largely we'll just emphasis the fact that it is rated R, so one should without a doubt be watching this before they let any of their kids check it out as some of those jokes or subjects can be pretty crass). For me however, it was a fun romp that although reminiscent in basic ways and thoughts to Bruce Almighty ended up being enjoyably different enough to feel like it's own thing. I've attached a picture of a scene where the dog and main are eating, and the dog has it's paws thrown up in the air with William's excited voice yelling "yay!" - and that pretty well sums up my experience with this movie.