Review

'Moonwalkers' is a tired British comedy

A famously crackpot conspiracy theory, psychedelic humor and arty ultraviolence make for dreary bedfellows in the scattershot British comedy "Moonwalkers," set in swinging 1969 London. Ron Perlman plays Kidman, a grizzled, volatile American special-ops agent scarred by 'Nam flashbacks, who's tasked by a brash general to hire Stanley Kubrick, then a hot commodity due to "2001: A Space Odyssey," to film a fake moon landing in case the just-launched Apollo 11 goes bust.

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But Kidman mistakes craven, inept rock manager Jonny (Rupert Grint) for Kubrick's manager, and Jonny's perpetually high roommate Leon (Robert Sheehan) for Kubrick himself. This leads to a bloody mix-up with London gangsters, dopey rock wannabes, topless girls and the hedonistic hippie lifestyle of a preening, mansion-ensconced experimental filmmaker hired to complete the job. Director Antoine Bardou-Jacquet, who devised the story, is dazzled by period style and puerile jokes, but nothing lands as especially funny, merely tired.

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Perlman's deadpan menace as a tough Yank navigating squishy English types carries a certain ramshackle fish-out-of-water charm, but the central comedic principle here is broad, stoned, dumb and gory, with the occasional Kubrick movie in-joke to keep cineastes awake. Elegantly nasty shootouts and lavishly realized drug trips have long been signs of pop-visual tiredness, and "Moonwalkers" is no exception.

"Moonwalkers"

Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

MPAA rating: R for strong bloody violence, graphic nudity, plentiful drug use and language

Playing: In limited release

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on January 15, 2016, in the Entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Lunar lunacy is a comic misstep - `MOONWALKERS'" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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