By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com January 27, 2012 at 9:43AM
It's been nearly thirty years since the members of Monty Python appeared on screen together in "The Meaning of Life." Thanks to most of the group feeling it was the weakest of their film outings, long-standing fissures in the group, and resistance by John Cleese in particular to a possible sequel to "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," Monty Python have never since worked on the same project since. That said, members have teamed on various projects over the years -- all the surviving members (Graham Chapman having passed in 1989) except Terry Gilliam appeared in Terry Jones' "The Wind In The Willows" in 1996, while there have been a few on-stage reunions, generally with one or more members absent.
Fifteen years on from "The Wind in the Willows," most of the band seem to be getting back together for another film project, albeit one in which they won't actually appear. Jones is returning to directing with the science-fiction comedy "Absolutely Anything," and Variety report that John Cleese and Michael Palin have signed to join the director in lending their voices to the part live-action, part-CGI project. Jones told BBC News this morning that Terry Gilliam will join them, but Eric Idle is proving trickier, apparently due to disagreements over his hit musical "Spamalot" . The comics will play aliens who give a human god-like powers in order to see what a mess he makes of it.
They're not the only comedy legends to be involved either: Robin Williams will lend his voice to a talking dog called Dennis, as well as possibly playing "a pompous Frenchman." Jones has been developing the script for two decades with co-writer Gavin Scott ("Small Soldiers"), and indeed, the film was previously announced a couple of years back. Veteran producer and studio head Mike Medavoy (who worked on "Monty Python's Life of Brian") is backing the film, along with David Thwaites ("What To Expect When You're Expecting"), Chris Chesser ("Major League") and Bill and Ben Productions, who also reunited the Pythons for an animated version of Chapman's memoir "A Liar's Autobiography" that's currently in post production.
Medavoy tells the trade that, "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." There's a few other questions here, however. Can they convince Idle to get involved? Furthermore, when the film was originally announced, "The Daily Show" star John Oliver was cast in the lead role, but there's no mention of him -- presumably his part is going to be recast?
Still, a half-formed Python reunion is better than no Python reunion, and we're hoping that Jones can recapture the anarchy and hilarity of their classic work on the new project. It sounds like financing is still coming together on this (and will likely depend on who stars in the live-action section), but this could turn out to be fun if it does make it to production.