Lloyd the Conqueror
Directed by Michael Peterson
A soundtrack featuring some of Canada's most bombastic metal bands perfectly complements Calgary-set Lloyd the Conqueror's foul-mouthed LARP comedy. With ridiculous self-seriousness, castrated acts of aggression, steadfast dedication to an elaborate mythology and the garish attire worn by its acolytes, this brand of grandiloquent metal music mirrors the sensibilities of live action role-playing ideally. Psychological building blocks aside, the film is a prototypical piece of "slacker makes good" wish fulfillment.
Three underachieving geek buddies—Lloyd, Patrick and Oswald—botch a Beowulf assignment in their community college literature class after staying up all night playing video games. The resulting failing grade puts the broadly drawn dunces in danger of losing their financial aid, so they agree to join the local LARP league at the behest of their teacher, Derek (Mike Smith of Trailer Park Boys, in a very un-Bubbles-like performance).
You see, in his spare time, the self-dubbed Derek the Unholy asserts his shallow need for arbitrary superiority by callously dominating people who mostly just want to engage in some light escapist fantasy. His needlessly aggrandized competitiveness has scared off so many players that there aren't enough teams left to stage the year's final battle. And with no battle, there is no victor and therefore nothing to lord over anyone.
Brian Posehn (The Sarah Silverman Program) is the regional LARP geek-father, owner of the local game shop and a retired level eighty white wizard. He becomes the lazy trio's mentor, and has his own clichéd reasons for rejoining the foam padded fight. Posehn's lethargic deadpan is an effective delivery method for the droll living fiction of the hard-core fantasy enthusiast.
As predictable as the trajectory is ("gee, I wonder if everyone will learn a little something about teamwork and acceptance and if Lloyd will find a way to hook up with the hot tae kwon do instructor he's been lusting after?") Lloyd the Conqueror gets a lot of mileage out of treating banal exchanges, both verbal and physical, with grand majesty and by peppering the dialogue with filthy one-liners.
The sub-culture of LARP and its participants is handled with a lot of affection but little wit: there isn't much to get out of this immature buddy comedy other than passing amusement. Still, it's impossible to dismiss any movie that pits a chubby unicorn against a coked-out centaur.
(Fresh Dog Productions)
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