Film Review: Lunarcy! – Luna City or Bust!
We all have dreams. For some of us those dreams are to get a good education, a good job and live a comfortable life. For others, dreams take on a much different shape. For many of the subjects in Simon Ennis’ heartfelt documentary Lunarcy!, the dream is no less than the stars themselves; or more poignantly The Moon.
Lunarcy! is one part documentary and one part comedy, detailing the lives of several very unique and often charming individuals who are in no small way obsessed with Earth’s closest celestial neighbor. Christopher longs for the day when man first colonizes the moon and is actively striving to achieve it. Peter, President of the Moon Society and avid writer of all things Moon related spends his days thinking about all the various ways human life will change once we truly embrace the black. Dennis Hope… well he sells lunar real-estate to eager buyers…. More on him later.
The bulk of Lunarcy! primarily follows the story of Christopher, a clearly intelligent if not somewhat socially awkward young man determined to not only move humanity towards the stars but to be a pivotal part of it. Taking to the streets, sci-fi conventions and really anywhere that will have him, Christopher devotes his life to The Moon. This devotion seems ridiculous at times, but under the bright blue “Luna City or Bust” vest and interesting choice in facial hair is an individual who truly believes in the idea of lunar colonization and that it is the first step towards ensuring humanity’s long-term survival. While Christopher may have a personal interest in such plans (he does wish to go to The Moon himself after all), the bulk of his energy and devotion comes from his very sincere and arguably correct opinion on the state of our space program and humanity in general.
Peter, an older man who physically lives in Milwaukee, WI but many would argue actually lives amongst the stars also believes with a passion that humanity’s future is in the stars. While Christopher is obsessed with the why and when, Peter spends his days pondering the hows: how will we build, how will we live, and so on. Almost a sort of philosopher, Peter considers how life in space would change humanity, and how humanity would change space; everything from how we would create art from materials on the moon to ways we could make subterranean living more enjoyable. There is no question Peter truly believes this is the direction humanity needs to go, and it is with a sort of sad hopefulness that he talks about ideas and plans that he himself is likely far too old to ever actually see happen.
Dennis Hope on the other hand is at best delusional but most likely nothing more than a run of the mill snake-oil salesman. His presence in the film not only offers viewers some opportunities at condescending laughs, but also helps to ground Christopher and Peter’s stories in a more relatable way. Where Christopher and Peter see humanity’s hope and long-term survival, Dennis sees profit. As the self proclaimed “Owner of the Moon,” Dennis has been selling “real estate” on the moon since the 1980’s. Like most charlatans, Dennis is charming, sometimes funny and it is hard to tell if he is sipping on his own Kool-Aid or not. The presence of a clear con-artist (whether he believes he is conning people or not) serves to really highlight the difference between him (and people like him) and honest dreamers like Christopher and Peter.
A cast of other individuals also help to propel the film along as we are given some various reasons and stories on why so many are so obsessed with the Moon. Ennis also works in a fair amount archival footage of some very entertaining pop culture references to the Moon from the past that serve to segway the various stories, including one catchy folk tune about sending a monkey to The Moon. Outside of the main three individuals the film spends most of its’ time with Alan Bean though. The actual astronaut turned artist lends some honest gravitas to the film, being that of all the people he is the only one to have actually been there. His story of attempting to appreciate the beauty of what he saw long after his time with Apollo highlights that people like Christopher and Peter may not be so delusional after all; plus I really want to own one of his paintings.
It would have been incredibly easy for Simon Ennis to use his film as a tool for making fun of these individuals. Christopher is incredibly awkward, he dresses funny, speaks very verbose and even without his admitting it you can tell he was picked on in high school. Peter is an old nut obsessed with The Moon. Dennis is a weasel. The director never makes comments like these though and even allows you to be swallowed up by Christopher’s hopes and Peter’s idealism. Meanwhile he simply lets Dennis show himself to be the tumor on the human race that he is. The result is that in a theater full of people a few will chuckle at Christopher’s occasional embarrassment or incredibly awkward moment (there are always people like that), but you’d much rather cheer for him by the end instead. There are plenty of heartfelt laughs, and few snickers to be had at Dennis’ behalf as well. Most importantly there is a real commentary being made here on mankind’s ever pressing need to learn, explore and dream beyond our means in hopes that what is beyond our means today can someday become within our grasp.
Lunarcy! is not a perfect film, but Simon Ennis’ respectful handling and representation of individuals most of society would quickly laugh off is marvelous and there is no denying the film’s heart. Anyone who has ever considered themselves something of a space nut, a science nerd, or even just had a dream or idea that others thought was ridiculous or a waste of time should spend some time with Lunarcy!
Final Rating: 8.5/10
CBR Break Down:
How it was viewed: Theater
Running time: 1hr 20min
Starring: Alan Bean, Christopher Carson, Matthew Goodman, Dennis Hope
Directed by: Simon Ennis
Recommend viewing: There is nothing visual or otherwise that demands a theater viewing per say.
Current price: N/A
Why you should see it: Incredibly heartfelt and charming film that could leave you a little bit different than when you sat down to watch it.
Why you shouldn’t see it: You can’t get over Christopher’s vest.
I viewed this film at the Minneapolis International Film Festival.
Check out more information and a list of screenings through April by clicking below!