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I'll Do Anything is a 1994 Americanmarker dramedy film written and directed by James L. Brooks. 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. Little more than a year 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 obviously 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 Georgiamarker 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 television 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. While a large part of the film is a satire of the film industry, it also skewers relationships from various angles.



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. It featured songs by Carole King, Prince, and Sinéad O'Connor, among others, with choreography by Twyla Tharp. 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."

"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."

Critical reaction

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." Janet Maslin of the New York Times described it as "droll" and "improbably buoyant."


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 Varese Sarabande, along with four instrumental tracks by the film's composer, Hans Zimmer. 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 Directors Cut restoring the musical numbers and including a making-of documentary, that project has yet to come to fruition. The film's commercially released version is available on DVD.


  1. Roger Ebert review in the Chicago Sun-Times, February 4, 1994
  2. Janet Maslin review in the New York Times, February 4, 1994
  3. I'll Do Anything soundtrack at

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