I'll Do Anything

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I'll Do Anything
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James L. Brooks
Written byJames L. Brooks
Produced byJames L. Brooks
Polly Platt
Starring Nick Nolte
Albert Brooks
Julie Kavner
Joely Richardson
Tracey Ullman
Whittni Wright
Cinematography Michael Ballhaus
Edited by Richard Marks
Music by Hans Zimmer
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • February 4, 1994 (1994-02-04)
Running time
115 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$40 million
Box office$10 million

I'll Do Anything is a 1994 American comedy-drama film written and directed by James L. Brooks. While a large part of the film is a satire of the film industry, it also skewers relationships from various angles. Its primary plot concerns a down-on-his-luck actor who suddenly finds himself the sole caretaker of his six-year-old daughter.



In 1980, on the night he fails to win an Emmy Award, Matt Hobbs proposes to his longtime girlfriend Beth. He says the only thing holding him back is his dedication to his career, one which may not always work out, and Beth says that's one of the things she loves most about him. Seven years later, with a baby crying and no job for Matt, Beth is overflowing with resentment. By 1993, the pair have been divorced for several years and are living on opposite coasts. Matt auditions for a role in pompous, self-absorbed, and clueless film producer Burke Adler's new project but fails to get the part. He does however agree to chauffeur Adler occasionally. Matt flies to Georgia to pick up his daughter Jeannie for what he believes is a brief visit and discovers Beth is facing a prison term and Jeannie will be living with him for the duration of her sentence. The two return to Hollywood and struggle with their new circumstances and building a relationship (Matt hasn't seen the six-year-old since she was four). When Matt goes in to make a screen test for a lead in a film, he leaves Jeannie with a friend at the studio, and when he picks her up he's stunned to learn she's been cast in a sitcom. There are multiple sub-plots, including one focusing on Matt's relationship with staff script-reader Cathy Breslow and another concerning test screening analyst Nan Mulhanney and her tumultuous relationship with Adler.



Originally I'll Do Anything was conceived and filmed by James L. Brooks as an old-fashioned movie musical and parody of "Hollywood lifestyles and movie clichés", costing $40 million. [1] It featured songs by Carole King, Prince, and Sinéad O'Connor, among others, with choreography by Twyla Tharp. [1] When preview audience reactions to the music were overwhelmingly negative, all production numbers from the film were cut and Brooks wrote several new scenes, filming them over three days and spent seven weeks editing the film. Brooks noted: "Something like this not only tries one's soul - it threatens one's soul." [1] He later said of the film,

I conceived the story as a musical because musicals have a heightened sense of reality. Through song you can get closer to the truth. But even before I had any music I believed I had a complete script. I wrote it like any script. As far as the music was concerned, I only knew where I wanted the songs to go. [...] The point is that with or without musical numbers, the story worked. [1]


I'll Do Anything received mixed to positive reviews from critics. It currently holds a rating of 61% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 18 reviews.

In his three-star review in the Chicago Sun-Times , Roger Ebert called it "one of those offcenter comedies that gets its best moments simply by looking at people and seeing how funny, how pathetic, how wonderful they sometimes can be . . . it's a bright, edgy, funny story about people who have all the talent they need, but not all the luck . . . It is helpful, I think, to simply forget about the missing songs, and recognize that I'll Do Anything is a complete movie without them - smart, original, subversive." [2] Janet Maslin of the New York Times described it as "droll" and "improbably buoyant." [3]

Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "B−" on scale of A to F. [4]

Box office

The film was a box office failure. Produced on a budget of $40 million, I'll Do Anything grossed only a little over $10.4 million, making it one of the worst performing films of the year when compared to its cost. [5]

Year-end lists


One of the original songs meant to be performed in the film is heard during the closing credits and is included on the soundtrack album released by Varèse Sarabande, along with four instrumental tracks by the film's composer, Hans Zimmer. [9] While other versions of songs penned by Prince resurfaced on some of his later projects, Girl 6 and The Vault: Old Friends 4 Sale , none of the actual performances from the movie were ever officially released.

Although James L. Brooks has mentioned he would like to release a director's cut restoring the musical numbers and including a making-of documentary, that project has yet to come to fruition.[ citation needed ] The film's commercially released version is available on DVD.

In a 2013 interview, Zimmer said that a release of the musical version is unlikely: "The deal structure on those songs was so complicated and so expensive, and it would cost so much money in rights to put it out.” [10]

In an interview on Off Camera with Sam Jones, Jackson Browne stated that his song "I'll Do Anything", released on the 1993 album I'm Alive was originally written to be the title song for the movie. It was to be a comedic song sung by Albert Brooks where he is begging a test audience to favorably review his latest film.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Robert W. Butler (1994-02-03). "Anything to save the movie James L. Brooks dumped the music, rewrote the scenes and did more filming for 'I'll Do Anything'". The Kansas City Star . p. E1.
  2. Ebert, Roger. "I'll Do Anything movie review (1994) | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com/. Retrieved 2021-11-07.
  3. Janet Maslin review in the New York Times, February 4, 1994
  4. "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  5. "World's Champs & Chumps". Variety . February 13, 1995. p. 7.
  6. Maslin, Janet (December 27, 1994). "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; The Good, Bad and In-Between In a Year of Surprises on Film". The New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  7. Simon, Jeff (January 1, 1995). "Movies: Once More, with Feeling". The Buffalo News . Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  8. Lovell, Glenn (December 25, 1994). "The Past Picture Show the Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- a Year Worth's of Movie Memories". San Jose Mercury News (Morning Final ed.). p. 3.
  9. I'll Do Anything soundtrack at SoundtrackCollector.com
  10. Kyle Buchanan (November 5, 2013). "Hans Zimmer Tells Juicy Stories About the Classic Films He's Scored". Vulture.com . Retrieved June 22, 2015.