Plans are for filming to begin in the U.K. this spring, with the Pythons voicing key roles as a a group of aliens who endow an earthling with the power to do “absolutely anything” to see what a mess he’ll make of things — which is precisely what happens. There’s also a talking dog named Dennis who seems to understand more about the mayhem that ensues than anyone else does. Robin Williams will voice the character.
“It’s not a Monty Python picture, but it certainly has that sensibility,” Jones told Variety.
“Anything” is based on a script developed by Jones and Gavin Scott over the past two decades. Medavoy, a producer on the Pythons’ “Life of Brian,” is producing along with David Thwaites and Chris Chesser, in conjunction with U.K. partners Bill and Ben Prods.
Jones co-directed 1974’s “Monty and the Holy Grail” with Terry Gilliam and was the sole director on “Life of Brian” and “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.” He said Gilliam and Python members John Cleese and Michael Palin have agreed to perform and added that producers are attempting to sign Eric Idle.
The five surviving troupe members last appeared together in 1998 at the Aspen Comedy Festival along with an urn that allegedly contained the ashes of late member Graham Chapman.
Medavoy, whose recent producing credits are for “Black Swan” and the upcoming “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” noted that he’s had plenty of experience with films like “Absolutely Anything” dating back to the 1970s, when he headed production at United Artists.
“Terry and Gavin have crafted a classic farce — something I feel I know a little bit about after all the ‘Pink Panther’ pictures we did with Blake Edwards at United Artists,” Medavoy said. “In fact, the movie even has a pompous Frenchman reminiscent of Inspector Clouseau — but there the similarity ends. Like all projects originated by any of the Monty Python guys, ‘Absolutely Anything’ delightfully defies a logline.”
Medavoy said producers are in discussions with Williams to play the Frenchman and are actively casting the other leads.
Jones last directed 1996’s “Wind in the Willows,” in which he starred with Cleese, Idle, Palin, Steve Coogan and Nicol Williamson. Despite strong reviews, “Wind” received only a limited release from Sony at 65 locations at widest — which discouraged Jones from directing features again for many years.
Jones has remained active in recent years, penning several books and directing “The Doctor’s Tale,” an opera he co-wrote with Anne Dudley as part of the Royal Opera House’s “OperaShots.” It’s a Python-esque story of a doctor — who happens to be a dog — whose devoted patients rush to the rescue after he is forced to stop practicing.
He’s also working on a heavy metal version of “The Nutcracker” with Jim Steinman and teaming with Dudley on an opera based on “The Owl and the Pussycat,” to be presented on barges during the London Summer Olympics.