Director: Antoine Bardou-Jacquet
Stars: Rupert Grint, Ron Perlman
3 (out of 5) Globes
Basic question: Do you find the idea of Cro-Magnon bruiser Ron Perlman beating up hippies entertaining? How about a film that also plays with the almost certainly BS conspiracy theory that the moon landing was faked?Behold “Moonwalkers,” a film of very simple pleasures that settles for being just good enough. It debuted at South by Southwest because of course it did: It plays like it was devised in a lab to appeal to the fest’s yen for crazy concepts, dark humor, cult stars and, of course, a little ultraviolence.
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Perlman plays an ex-special forces agent known only as Kidman, who returns from ’Nam with a nasty case of PTSD and a new task: Find Stanley Kubrick and have him film an ersatz version of the Apollo 11 mission, on the off chance Buzz Aldrin and company don't succeed. Instead he gets fleeced by Rupert Grint’s Jonny, a permanently flabbergasted never-was rock manager who passes off a disheveled actor friend (Robert Sheehan) as the great director. Eventually Kidman and Jonny, approaching a hard deadline and fending off looming gangsters, team up and enlist a frou-frou experimental filmmaker (Tom Audenaert) to do the job inside his orgy-tastic English mansion, stocked to the rafters with psychedelics and naked flesh.
“Moonwalkers” gives you what you came for, including couldn’t-resist jokes about the coming computer revolution — plus less defensible gags about lecherous gays. There’s slightly more to it than that, with a script, by “Death at a Funeral” scribe Dean Craig, that connects the dots between the counterculture and crime even more neatly than did the 1970 classic “Performance.” It even has decent yuks about the avant-garde beyond the usual “Aren’t they weird?” variety (which it has, too). The best joke — or the second, after a scene where a druggie painted blue rolls up to Perlman and gets dropped like a bag of cement — posits that the moon landing really does look like an experimental film, and the lulling, stumbling moonwalk really does look like dudes smacked out on some fantastic shrooms.
It’s all of it easy, right down to a beatdown set to the same Rossini piece used in “A Clockwork Orange.” But easy isn’t bad, especially when its Grint once again stretching his face into freaked-out contortions of Hellboy getting accidentally dosed and being hypnotized by stroking a doorknob. Casting the right people will save the day, even when your script only marginally exploits a can’t-miss nutso premise.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge