THIS MUST'VE SEEMED like a good idea, once upon a time. The concept for A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman fits in with the late comedian's anarchic approach to humor: Using recordings Chapman made for the audiobook version of his unconventional memoir, the directors behind the excellent Monty Python: Almost the Truth reconstruct the actor's account of his life as a fast-paced hodgepodge of fact and falsehoods. Hiring a bunch of different animation studios to helm each segment, and bringing in most of the remaining Pythons to add new vocal snippets, it's a documentary as freeform and unconventional as the original Flying Circus programs. Sounds amazing, yeah?
Unfortunately, from pitch to realization, something went wrong. A Liar's Biography is a boring mess. There's a difference between "anything goes" and "all over the place," and this film ends up being the latter, never quite gelling and, worse, leaving its subject behind for extended sequences while the animators show off. Flying Circus sketches are reimagined via Terry Gilliam-esque cutting and pasting, while the Pythons plotting their television takeover are rendered as computer-animated chimpanzees. Abstract brushstrokes that vividly relate Chapman's detoxing from booze butt up against Adventure Time-esque journeys into outer space. The only connector between the disparate elements is that the film is in 3D.
Admittedly, the cartooning benefits from the added dimension, even if Graham Chapman's legacy does not. The performer could be an interesting subject: He struggled with alcoholism and was a gay man who was out of the closet long before it was fashionable. I'd love to see a legitimate documentary on his life, as opposed to A Liar's Biography, which merely applies a light basting of reality to a whole lot of hooey.