A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman

  • Review Date: November 7, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Comedian's animated life story is filled with sex, alcohol.
  • Review Date: November 7, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Becoming famous leads Chapman to a life of parties and celebrity friends, as well as sex and alcohol abuse. Teens may see these things as the "rewards" that come with fame and success. At some point, Chapman begins acknowledging these problems, but there are few consequences for his actions, and he's not exactly redeemed.

Positive role models

Though he was a great comedian, Chapman portrays himself as a deviant and an addict who gets away with all kinds of problematic behavior. His recovery isn't very convincing, and he barely pays any attention to the good work he did for Monty Python. If teens are thinking about becoming entertainers, this isn't the movie to show them -- except as a possible cautionary tale.

Violence

In an animated scene, the main character imagines severed limbs hanging from trees and littering the streets. A policeman looks for missing heads, while characters step over (and on) various bloody stumps. In this sequence, the character is portrayed as a small child who's looking at all this stuff. There's also a sequence in which the main character wrestles himself, also with bloody, severed limbs. In other sequences, a character is sliced open, and there's an aerial dogfight.

Sex

The main character appears to be a sex addict, or, at the very least, is extremely promiscuous. He sleeps with many partners (both male and female) over the course of the movie, and -- though the film is animated -- many details are shown (naked breasts, pubic hair, etc.). There are surreal images of penises and strong sexual innuendo throughout, including the song "Sit on My Face."

Language

Language is very strong, with the focus on sexual innuendo/terms. Words include "f--k," "t-ts," "scrotum," "bugger off," "hell," "vagina," and "balls."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The main character develops a drinking problem and is seen drinking and drunk throughout. Hard liquor is his drink of choice, but he seems to drink just about anything. He has a "freakout"/detox scene, after which he gives up drinking -- with difficulty. He also smokes a pipe throughout and is seen as a small boy smoking a pipe.

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.

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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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 2, 2012
DVD release date: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

This review of A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman was written by

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