A great premise gets lost in the murk of Moonwalkers, the feature-directing debut from Antoine Bardou-Jacquet.
The film plays off the myth that we never landed on the moon, and that Stanley Kubrick was hired to direct the fake moon landing. Bardou-Jacquet aims for dark humor with clear nods to Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange and other Kubrick classics. There are many clever moments in the movie, but they never come together as a cohesive piece—and one of the central performances drags down the film.
While Rupert Grint is good as Jonny—manager of a lame ’60s rock band who is deep in debt—Ron Perlman is a muddled mess as Kidman, a Vietnam veteran suffering major posttraumatic-stress disorder and working for the CIA. When Col. Dickford (played by Jay Benedict with echoes of Sterling Hayden in Strangelove) comes to the conclusion that the real moon landing might not work out (“We’re going to look like dicks!”), he sends Kidman overseas to hire Kubrick, get the fake filmed moon landing, and kill everybody involved.
Bardou-Jacquet doesn’t quite have the courage of his convictions, and Perlman seems lost in a role with which he could have had a lot of fun. Grint keeps things moving OK enough, as does Robert Sheehan as his druggie roommate, but it’s not enough.
There are some funny lasting images, including an art film called Bounce that is just an obese man in a diaper bouncing, accompanied by bicycle horns and chickens. However, the super-violent tone, Perlman’s dreary work and comedy don’t blend.
Moonwalkers is available on demand and via online sources including iTunes and Amazon.com during a limited theatrical release.