Published Oct 05, 2015Mission to Lars — the documentary by James Moore and William Spicer about William and his sister Kate's long-in-the-works mission to introduce their autistic brother Tom to his hero, world-renowned drummer Lars Ulrich — doesn't have a whole lot to do with Metallica. The impact of the band and their historical relevance are rarely discussed, nor are they even seen in person until the film's final act. Instead, meeting Ulrich acts as a kind of albatross, an impossible goal that has plagued their mentally disabled brother for over a decade, and how accomplishing that goal actually brings them closer together.
Tom has fragile X syndrome, a condition involving heavy communication problems and social anxiety that has led him to spend the majority of his adult life in a residential care facility in rural England. Unhappy with the lack of connection to their brother, William and Kate decide to take Tom — an obsessive collector of all things Metallica — over to America to follow the band on the West coast leg of their World Magnetic Tour, all in the hopes of introducing him to Ulrich.
It's a fairly straightforward premise, and those uninterested in traditionally shot docs of this nature may not find much of interest here, even for hardcore Metallica fans. But Mission to Lars succeeds by coyly creating a picture that explores how an average family deals with a particular hardship while presenting itself as a music doc (the band plays almost no real role in the picture, and it's easy to imagine a similar documentary being made about another person affected by a certain condition meeting their hero).
Instead, the Spicers use the journey to explore their relationships with one another, and that's something all families — metal-loving ones or otherwise — can probably relate to and learn from.