Pasatiempo - - ON THE COVER -

MOON­WALK­ERS, con­spir­acy farce, rated R, The Screen,

1.5 chiles

One of the hard-dy­ing ar­ti­cles of faith among con­spir­acy be­liev­ers is that the 1969 Apollo 11 moon land­ing was faked. As the the­ory goes, Stan­ley Kubrick, whose 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey had just set a new bench­mark for sci-fi movies, was hired by the U.S. govern­ment to stage the event at a re­mote, top-se­cret stu­dio some­where in the hills of Hol­ly­wood or maybe in Ne­vada’s re­mote Area 51.

Well, why not Lon­don? Eng­land at the end of the ’60s was swing­ing like a pen­du­lum, drenched in acid and psychedelia, awash in sex and rock ’n’ roll. It was also home to Kubrick.

So when mem­bers of the CIA de­cide it would be pru­dent to shoot backup footage of the moon land­ing to save face in the event the real one comes a crop­per, which seems more likely than not, Lon­don is where they send their man to re­cruit the great di­rec­tor.

The CIA op­er­a­tive is Kid­man (Ron Perl­man), a bru­tal block of mus­cle who is suf­fer­ing from PTSD flash­backs af­ter his ser­vice in Viet­nam. He ar­rives in the of­fice of Kubrick’s agent (Stephen Camp­bell Moore), but the gods of mis­taken iden­tity in­ter­vene, and Kid­man ends up giv­ing his suit­case full of cash to Jonny (Rupert Grint), the hap­less man­ager of a ter­ri­ble rock band, who as­sures him he will pro­duce Kubrick.

Jonny needs the money to re­pay a mur­der­ous loan­shark (An­drew Blu­men­thal). So he re­cruits his bearded stoner friend Leon (Robert Shee­han) to im­per­son­ate Kubrick, with no in­ten­tion of ac­tu­ally shoot­ing the footage. But then he dis­cov­ers that Kid­man is not some bozo Hol­ly­wood pro­ducer, but CIA.

Moon land­ing con­spir­acy? Kubrick? Psy­che­delic Lon­don? CIA? It seems like an idea preg­nant with po­ten­tial. But in the hands of screen­writer Dean Craig

(Death at a Fu­neral) and di­rec­tor An­toine Bar­dou-Jac­quet (mak­ing his fea­ture de­but), it quickly dis­solves into a wel­ter of silli­ness and vi­o­lence through which only the oc­ca­sional beam of wit man­ages to pen­e­trate.

Perl­man is solid, in ev­ery sense of the word, but there’s lit­tle for him to do but try to punch and shoot his way through this mess. Grint, fa­mil­iar as Ron from the Harry Pot­ter movies, strug­gles to find the hu­mor in his sad-sack role. Shee­han sur­vives bet­ter as the Kubrick im­per­son­ator, but Tom Au­de­naert, as an avant-garde film­maker drafted to shoot the footage, splat­ters the screen with a painful ex­plo­sion of camp. Erika Sainte is in­trigu­ing as an enig­matic groupie.

There are nu­mer­ous homages to Kubrick, in­clud­ing nods to 2001, plenty of the old ul­tra-vi­o­lence from A Clock­work Or­ange, sex­ual flights of fancy à la Eyes Wide Shut, and an Amer­i­can gen­eral not un­like Dr. Strangelove’s Buck Turgid­son. But the gap be­tween the tal­ents of Kubrick and Bar­dou-Jac­quet dwarfs the dis­tance from Earth to the moon. — Jonathan Richards

Ron Perl­man and Rupert Grint

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