Joshua Reviews Simon Ennis’ Lunarcy! [SXSW 2013 Review]


While becoming an astronaut was once the most dreamed of job by the youth and one of the most respected career choices by adults, the population has seemed to lose much of its drive to look outward, into space.

However, there are still a few voices that are trying to not only return to celestial entities like the moon, but colonize on the surface. And thankfully, they now have a film giving them the voice they so rightly deserve.

Lunarcy! comes to us from director Simon Ennis, and the film follows the story of a collection of different people who have made the moon, and space in general, their life. From the man looking to capitalize on the fact that no nation has governance over the moon by “staking his claim” to the being and selling lots of land for cash to the man pitching his idea about moon colonization, Lunarcy is a loving and comedic look at a passion that has become fodder for science fiction conventions instead of the idol kids say they “want to be when they grow up.”

Ennis, probably best known for his little seen documentary You Might As Well Live and a handful of shorts, is the film’s biggest star. With gorgeous photography, the film’s greatest attribute is its sense of love and admiration for its leads, particularly Christopher Carlson. There are flights of fancy that really make the film engaging and seemingly inventive, but it is in the comedy and the heart that the film has that it really shines as something more than just a piece of character study. A non-judgmental camera, in any other filmmaker’s hands, a mocking tone would have bled through, but what we get instead is a film that is as sweet as overdosing on a bag of Skittles dipped in sugar.

The stories, however, are completely mixed. Carlson’s story is easily the film’s strongest aspect, and I’d kill to see a feature documentary solely about his life. There is a brief interview with his parents that really hint at just how deeply rooted his passion for space is, and his parents lack of judgment is so thrilling and intriguing. We also meet an astronaut-turned painter, Alan Bean, that is interesting but completely slight, but it’s in the story of Dennis Hope, a man selling plots of land on the moon, that the film falls apart. This is the only segment of the film that feels to lack the beating heart found within the rest of the film, and it’s ultimately a silly look at a man’s silly idea of having ownership over the moon. There are moments of odd intrigue, particularly when he reveals who he has allegedly had conversations with in the political realm, but overall is bogged down by a story that is just simply ludicrous, even compared to a man looking to colonize the moon. There is also a lack of a female voice that can be seen as something quite odd. It’s not a major point of contention, but it is something to keep in the back of one’s mind as it’s a boys club here, and it’s telling.

Overall, while the film may be seen as almost too sweet and saccharine, one will be completely unable to turn away from this fun and somewhat insightful documentary about people who have been completely unable to forget the excitement that is brought when talking about the great expanse of the universe. It won’t spark any new excitement about space in the general populace, but if there is one thing about this film that makes it a must-see, is that it will remind you just how inspiring leaving this planet can be to just about anyone.

The film plays SXSW all week, and will arrive via EPIX on April 3

Joshua Brunsting

Josh is a critic, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, a wrestling nerd, a hip-hop head, a father, a cinephile and a man looking to make his stamp on the world, one word at a time.