2016, R, 107 min. Directed by Antoine Bardou-Jacquet. Starring Rupert Grint, Ron Perlman, Robert Sheehan, Tom Audenaert, Eric Lampaert, James Cosmo, Kevin Bishop, Erika Sainte.
REVIEWED By Josh Kupecki, Fri., Jan. 15, 2016
Who doesn’t love a great conspiracy theory? Whether it’s 9/11 being an inside job (probably not), or the CIA dumping narcotics into the ghetto to keep minorities in check (probably so), the proliferation of paranoia ranges from cocktail-party pastime to outright lifestyle choice. One of those perennials, that filmmaker Stanley Kubrick staged the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing in an England studio (see Rodney Ascher’s film essay Room 237 for homework), gets woven into a stoner-comedy framework with Moonwalkers, a film that debuted at South by Southwest Film 2015, and is just now getting a limited release.
Nervous that the actual Apollo 11 mission might fail, the Pentagon taps CIA operative Kidman (Perlman) with recruiting Stanley Kubrick to film some moon footage as a backup. Except Kidman ends up meeting up with Jonny (Grint, running away from Ron Weasley), a ne’er-do-well band manager who, in a right-place-right-time movie contrivance, convinces Kidman that his flatmate Leon (Sheehan, appropriately stoned) is Kubrick because he needs the money to pay off debts to a local mobster, Dawson (Cosmo). Is this making sense at all? It really doesn’t matter, because the film couldn’t care less; this is that kind of romp (hate that word, but completely apropos, unfortunately).
Moonwalkers blends a strange mélange of Swinging Sixties, drug-addled humor with that slow-motion, gangster gunplay that Guy Ritchie trademarked in his early work. It’s a weird mix to be sure, bloody broken teeth dropping one minute, hippies dropping acid the next. I’m also not convinced that there were that many women walking around topless in England because they would have most likely caught their death in those drafty environs. But hey, who am I to kick a film with obvious low expectations? It never aspires to anything, so how can you fault it without looking like an asshole? Hang on, that’s my gig. Underachievers unite!