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 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.Nick Nolte - Matt Hobbs
Whittni Wright - Jeannie Hobbs
Albert Brooks - Burke Adler
Julie Kavner - Nan Mulhanney
Joely Richardson - Cathy Breslow
Tracey Ullman - Beth Hobbs
Joely Fisher - Female D Person
Vicki Lewis - Millie
Anne Heche - Claire
Ian McKellen - John Earl McAlpine
Angela Alvarado - Lucy
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." He later said of the film,
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." Janet Maslin of the New York Times described it as "droll" and "improbably buoyant."
The film was a box office failure. Produced on a budget of $40 million, I'll Do Anything grossed only a little over $10.2 million in ticket sales.
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. 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. 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.”