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'Liar's Autobiography' of Graham Chapman: Insufferable, incomplete

November 01, 2012|By Mark Olsen
  • A scene from "A Liar's Autobiography."
A scene from "A Liar's Autobiography." (LiarsAutobiography.com )

The new film "A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman" attempts, in the spirit of the troupe itself, to tell the life-story of the Python member who died in 1989.

The film is credited to directors Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson and Ben Timlett, who use 17 animation styles to visualize recordings of Chapman reading from his autobiography alongside voice-work by former Python colleagues John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam, as well as "gratuitous special guest star" Cameron Diaz, who sputters out a few short lines as Sigmund Freud.

The end result is insufferable. Minutes into the film there is an interminably long scene set inside a car in which a young Chapman and his parents argue over the weather and fish.

Far too much attention is given to Chapman's fluid sexuality and alcoholism, such that those two things are essentially all one knows of him at the film's end.

"A Liar's Autobiography" feels like a failure on all fronts — unpleasant to look at, needlessly in 3D, drearily unfunny and worst of all an incomplete portrait of the person to whom it is ostensibly paying tribute.

"A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes. At the Aero Theatre, Santa Monica.

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