Graham Chapman was perhaps the most underrated member of the groundbreaking Monty Python troupe. If I have to explain to you what Monty Python is, frankly you have no business even considering renting this trippy feature animation project.
Just start with the three features Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life, move on to the original series and work your way through there. This one is for the already converted and even then, a great number of die-hard Python fans might find it a bit too absurd, surreal and yes, silly. This should give you an idea about what’s in store for you.
Chapman’s own reading from his book A Liar’s Autobiography was turned into separate and fairly episodic sections by a dozen different animation studios and patched together into a feature. Since the film as a whole can’t manage to stitch together a coherent narrative (To be fair, neither can the book, for fairly understandable reasons), I was left to wonder as inventive and involving as it was at times, would it have been a better idea to release it as a web series instead?
As the title suggests, much of the vignettes surrounding Chapman’s life are full of exaggerations and full-on lies. For the sufficiently intuitive, it’s not hard to figure out which parts are real, and which are made-up. A nightmarish sequence with a sepia-toned hand-drawn look depicting Graham’s three-day-long hell while he was trying to kick his fervent alcoholism feels disturbingly real.
On the other hand, I doubt that he shared booze with the queen or had sex with a woman while her mother was talking on the phone right next to him. That last part has many inconsistencies considering he came out as a gay man way before it was a common event among celebrities.
Yes, Chapman was publicly gay and proud even in the 70s and the film reflects his boisterous attraction to men and his many sexcapades. So if you think you’ll feel uncomfortable from watching many gay sex acts turned into various forms of colorful animation, you should stay away. The best scene in the film involves a musical rendition of “Sit on My Face”, sung by the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus, while the audience is subjected to a 90s flash-animation style montage of Chapman getting in on with many, many men. I have three words for you: Giant Penis Floats.
Using Chapman’s narration, originally recorded for an audio book, allows him to posthumously star in his film. All of the other Pythons lend their voices to the project as well, probably making it the last film you will see where all of the Pythons perform. However, please remember that this is not a Python film, it’s Chapman’s trippy, disturbing and wholly entertaining life story. Well, at least some of it is.
A Liar’s Autobiography is available on demand from Amazon and iTunes.