Yesterday afternoon, Geek Hard was once again at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. And this time, Mr. Green was in tow as well.
It was a beautiful day as we waited in line on Bloor Street, outside the lovely Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. The sun was shining, there was a crispness in the air and LARP-ers frolicked about with their swords and shield and whatnot. That’s right. There were LARP-ers about. What’s that you say? What’s a LARP-er? Well, when you break it down, LARP, or Live Action Role Play is basically a role-playing game like Dungeons and Dragons but you physically act out the your role, interacting with the other characters in the game in a fictional setting. It’s for the hardcore fantasy folk who like to do more than just watch or read about fantasy. In the context of their LARP, they get to live it and have fun. The LARP-ers were a great attraction to get the waiting crowds pumped for the screening we were all waiting for: Lloyd the Conqueror, a Canadian film set in the world of LARP…..and community college.
What really made me excited to see Lloyd was some of the cast involved in this movie. The Film stars former Geek Hard guest, Brian Posehn as well as Mike Smith, aka Bubbles from The Trailer Park Boys, in a role which is not Bubbles. The story revolves around three students at Calgary Community College – Lloyd, Patrick and Oswald – who are about to fail Medieval Literature class and lose their financial aid. Their teacher, Derek (Smith), makes a devil’s deal with them in which he will pass them if they take part and defeat him in an upcoming LARP Tournament that is taking place in their town. Little do they know that Derek is the Dark Lord who is known for crushing his opponents in said tournament. In order to win, Lloyd and the gang must seek guidance from Andy (Posehn), the local game shop owner and a level 80 Wizard, and enlist the help of Cassandra, a local martial artist and women’s defense class teacher. Together they must lead the forces of Light against Derek and his hordes of chaos in a battle of true good and evil. The end results are a pretty hilarious film.
The film is pretty strong from a comedic stand point, marrying a fun premise with some great characters and putting the right comedic voices in those roles. What’s interesting is that for a film that champions LARP, the creators of the film were not LARP-ers before the production. Director and writer Michael Peterson saw this as an interesting world to set his movie in and went from there. What helped this production was the addition of actual LARP-ers in the battles, bringing an authenticity to the piece even though producer Brendan Hunter admits they didn’t follow the actual rules of any known LARP. The film comes off as a love letter to Live Action Role Play and is filled with classic heroes and villains for an audience to cheer and boo and for the most part, these characters are brought perfectly to life.
Brian Posehn mentioned during the Q&A after the film that this film gave him the most screen time than any of his previous films. After seeing his performance in Lloyd, I hope that he gets more opportunities to have this big a role. He is both funny and endearing as the nerdy Andy, taking the role of the Obi wan Kenobi for this ragtag band of young people. Evan Williams, Lloyd himself, has that Luke Skywalker quality that makes you instantly route for him. (I think I should stop using the Star Wars Analogy as Andy considers it a “Crude Space Drama”). Tegan Moss, who plays Cassandra, does a great job of being a bad-ass chick that could beat the crap out of me any day. The real stand out performance would be that of Smith. Most of us here in Canada have been watching him for over a decade as the sweet but quirky Bubbles, the cart stealing, kitty loving voice of reason on the Trailer Park Boys. To say this role is a departure for him would be an understatement. In Lloyd the Conqueror, he plays a villainous man who has no honor but shows a great deal of conceit and hubris. He believes himself to be refined and acts as such with perfect diction and poise. It is not like anything we’ve seen him do on screen before. I’m happy to say that he pulls if off excellently. He’s the epitome of evil but is still able to steal the show with some of the funniest moments of the film. It was imperative that the role of Derek carry this film as the badguy should always be stronger than the hero. Smith delivers in spades. The only real weak performances in the film are given by Jesse Reid and Scot Patey as buddies Oswald and Patrick. I feel this has less to do with their actual abilities and more to do with their characters falling into the stereotypical tag along roles within the script. Regardless, although they do not really shine in this film, they each get a few funny scenes and in no way slow down this picture. It’s an enjoyable movie that really drives home the point of being true to oneself and to always have fun.
From the Lord of the Rings-like opening (narrated by Posehn) to the end of the flick – which could only end in one way in my book and thankfully it did – you will enjoy this fantastic journey. It’s a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously but doesn’t use that as an excuse to phone in it’s characters. Fans of Smith should watch it just to see that he can be more than just Bubbles. LARP-ers should watch it as it is one of the first times where LARP is not shown in a judgmental light. Fans of Comedy will appreciate the great timing and performances. If you are someone who likes a feelgood flick that has some dick and fart jokes in it, you will like this film.
Lloyd the Conqueror is a truly independent film so although there is a planned DVD release as well as a Canadian theatrical release, the info is not readily available at this time. I strongly suggest you keep an eye out for this film when it comes to your neck of the woods as it is worth watching and owning in your Home Video Collection.
To check the schedule for the rest of film screening, go to torontoafterdark.com.
And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!
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