Monday, 3 December 2012
LLOYD THE CONQUEROR - Review By Greg Klymkiw
Lloyd the Conqueror (2012) ** + 1 Pubic Hair
dir. Michael Peterson
Starring: Mike Smith, Brian Posehn, Evan Williams,
Jesse Reid, Scott Patey, Tegan Moss, Harland Williams
Review By Greg Klymkiw
Damn, I wanted to like this movie. Who wouldn't? It's got a Holy Fucking Trinity of some of the best funny guys in the business (Mike Smith, Brian Posehn and Harland Williams) portraying 40-something losers (actually, mind-blowingly humungous losers) who devote all their off-time (and much of their "on-time", if you can call it that) to the inexplicably obsessive world of role-playing games.
We're not talking about the losers who stay at home glued to their monitors - pretending to be fairy kings, stout-hearted dwarves and bearded fucking wizards in a virtual world.
Nay, these are losers who don costumes (sort of like those maroons who show up to movie premieres as Vulcans, Wookies and fucking Gandalf) and engage in real-life jousts and tournaments in the great outdoors.
If Lloyd the Conqueror had stuck to THESE guys instead of the utterly unentertaining early 20-something losers who lead the film's narrative charge, then it might have had a hope in Hell of being some kind of comedy classic. (It sometimes feels like the filmmakers might have discovered this in the edit room, too. It's uncanny how the movie soars when Smith, Posehn and Williams are onscreen. It might have been best to snip away as much of the uncharismatic purported leads as possible and use every available frame of this Trio of merry mirth makers. The movie feels about 15 minutes too long anyway, so it wouldn't have hurt at all.)
Alas, the movie is little more than a tedious, overlong and (often) unfunny comedy. I was happy to forgive the perfunctory plot this type of movie usually has. In fact, it doesn't get more perfunctory than this: Focusing upon three online gamers who are threatened with a low GPA and the loss of their student loans at College, get a chance to boost their academic standing by participating in actual role play battle in the flesh with their nasty, prissy, grade-lowering Medieval Literature professor (Mike Smith in a nice rival to his role as "Bubbles" on Trailer Park Boys).
SIDENOTE: I also learned something new here. I had no idea colleges offered courses requiring anything resembling reading as I always assumed these institutions were a last resort for the academically challenged on both the student and faculty end of things. Yeah, yeah. So sue me. I'm a fucking snob.
What I was not able to forgive was the woefully dull and virtually interchangeable characters who are forced into this predicament, as well, sadly, as the screen-presence-bereft young actors who played these roles. (In fairness, I'm sure all three of these young thespians are imbued with talent, but I must reiterate that the writing of the characters they play does neither them nor the film any favours.) What films like this need are vibrant characters played by bigger-than-life talents - think "Bill and Ted" (Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter), Wayne's World (Mike Myers and Dana Carvey) or "Harold and Kumar" (John Cho and Kal Penn).
Canada is certainly not without any number of great young actors with the comic chops of the above (Hell, a couple of the above-named ARE Canadian), BUT, the roles themselves in Lloyd the Conqueror needed to be written with the same panache that co-writers Andrew Herman and Michael Peterson invested in the roles played by Mike Smith, Brian Posehn and Harland (I wanna keep changing his surname to "Sanders") Williams. Stalwart supporting performers need lead performers who can blow them off the screen or at least hold their own. (Jesus Christ, think Max "fucking" Von Sydow going head to head with Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas in Strange Brew and you know what I'm talking about here.)
My dream cast for this movie would have been Canadian funny guys who are a bit long-in-tooth for the roles of the three young losers - imagine Jacob Tierney, Dov Tiefenbach, Jay Baruchel or hell, maybe even Don McKellar as a perennial student who just keeps taking college courses to get student loans. That's not only closer to what the film needed, but even thinking about first-rate talent like that might have inspired better writing for the three roles of the youthful "heroes".
Some might say, oh, but this is a low-budget Canadian film. Don't be so mean, Greg. Don't be so picky. It's Canadian. It's low budget. They tried really hard.
So fucking what?
Being Canadian and low-budget means the movie has to reach for the stratosphere, not the tip of the old landfill site in Winnipeg (which is the highest topographical point in that flat, godforsaken city of my youth).
All this said, I can still guarantee you the pleasure of soiling yourself whenever Mike Smith, Brian Posehn and Harland Sanders (Williams) are on screen.
These guys are the real thing and, good goddamn (!) they are funny.
"Lloyd the Conqueror" is in limited theatrical release across Canada. In Toronto it's playing at one of my favourite venues, The Magic Lantern Carlton Cinemas (they have the best cheap Tuesday prices in town, so I suggest you see the movie then). Thanks to Smith, Posehn and Williams you'll be afforded a delectable Walmart Rollback admission price to soil your panties.