Simon Pegg continues his rollercoaster career, alternating between superior blockbuster franchises (Mission: Impossible and Star Trek) and awkward British romantic-comedies (Hector and the Search for Happiness). And this might just be his most disastrous move yet. Despite a promising cast, which includes a reunion of the surviving Monty Python members, this madcap sci-fi comedy never finds its tone, veering wildly from nutty slapstick to sentimental silliness. It's hard to remember laughing even once while watching it.
The story kicks off when an American space probe launched in 1972 is intercepted by the Intergalactic Council (voiced by the Pythons). Their investigation into Earth consists of watching YouTube videos, so of course they decide to destroy the planet. But first, they'll give one earthling a chance to save the world: they randomly choose North London schoolteacher Neil (Simon Pegg) and give him superpowers that allow him to do absolutely anything. After a few mishaps, he tries to use his abilities to improve his life, making his his dog Dennis speak (in the voice of Robin Williams) and appearing irresistible to his neighbour Catherine (Kate Beckinsale). Even though she already likes him. But Neil only has 10 days to do the right thing with his powers, or Earth is doomed.
Yes, this is essentially the same plot as Bruce Almighty, but the film never quite settles on an approach. It's produced in the style of an over-wacky child's movie, but the humour is eerily adult-oriented, so it's difficult to see who would enjoy it. The main plot is never remotely coherent, meandering through the story without any sense of direction. There are also a few corny sideroads to pad out the slim running time, including Neil's work colleague (Sanjeev Baskar) becoming an object of religious devotion, while Catherine's American military one-night-stand (Rob Riggle) becomes an obsessive stalker. Neither of these strands goes anywhere funny. Nor do extended cameos by Eddie Izzard (as a gruff headmaster) or Joanna Lumley (as a snooty TV presenter).
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