A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman is an animated film that uses the voice of the actual Graham Chapman, who died in 1989 but recorded an audio version of the book the movie is based on before then. Despite the participation of fellow former Monty Python members John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, and Terry Jones, this isn't your typical Python movie. Although it's animated, the sequences range from surreal to bizarre, and the content is very graphic, with strong sexual material and imagery (including both same- and opposite-sex pairings), as well as some animated blood and gore, heavy language (many uses of "f--k"), and innuendo. The main character abuses both sex and liquor and smokes a pipe throughout. There are few consequences for any of his iffy behavior, so if your teens do end up watching, be prepared to discuss the movie's messages about the "rewards" of fame.
What's the story?
Graham Chapman's "autobiography," A Liar's Autobiography: Volume VI, is filled with outrageous lies, but it also contains some nuggets of truth, such as his alcoholism and his struggle with homosexuality. Chapman, who died in 1989, made an audio recording of the book, and several animators -- accompanied by voicework by four of the remaining five Monty Python members -- have visualized it here in surreal, mostly plotless sequences. Chapman tells of his years in school, adapting to fame, coming out of the closet, and other milestones.
Is it any good?
It's important to understand just what A LIAR'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY is before going in, or it can easily confuse. Even though he died in 1989, the actual Chapman narrates, thanks to an audio recording made before his death. Four of Chapman's former Monty Python colleagues -- John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, and Terry Jones -- provide voices (Eric Idle was not involved).
The movie's animation style changes radically for every sequence. Some, such as a sequence aboard a military aircraft, fall flat. Others deliberately evoke the surreal, sometimes off-putting style of Yellow Submarine. Strangely, Chapman doesn't really talk much about his actual achievements with Monty Python -- only the side effects. And for a movie about a famed comedian, A Liar's Autobiography really isn't very funny. It's when Chapman gets close to the truth of his life story that the movie really comes alive; his pain and suffering become apparent, and he becomes sympathetic, rather than snarky.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about A Liar's Autobiography's heavy sexual content. How is sex portrayed? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
Why do you think the character drinks so much? What are the consequences of his drinking?
Does the movie make fame look enticing, or does it show a bad side as well?
Though Chapman claims to be lying throughout his "autobiography," which parts appear to be true? What makes them different?
- In theaters: November 2, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: February 12, 2013
- Cast: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin
- Directors: Ben Timlett, Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson
- Studios: Brainstorm Media, Epix
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong and crude sexual content including graphic animated sequences, language and some violent images
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