In the grand sport of LARPing – better known in common parlance as Live Action Role Playing – alleged adults dress up as medieval warriors and demons and wizards and fairies, then hie themselves off to their local park where they proceed to whack each other upside the head with foam swords and paper sabres. That said, you may think that a movie comedy designed to poke fun at LARPing is – how to put this politely? – the very definition of redundant. So Lloyd the Conqueror is nothing if not brave. Then again, since Lloyd the Conqueror is also not funny, not even remotely, brave will have to do.
Still, credit the plucky director in question, Michael Peterson, with establishing a fine cinematic balance between his shoe-string idea and his shoe-string budget. Where others might make a mere virtue of necessity, he’s made a movie. It even has personages who loosely resemble characters and something that, in the same spirit of generosity, could be called a plot.
In the former category fall the titular Lloyd (Evan Williams under a halo hair) and his two slacker buddies. The lads are enrolled at a community college where they’re flunking a course in Beowulf. Whoa, now that’s edifying in itself, and heartening too: Who knew that our community colleges even offered a course in Beowulf? No doubt it’s a prerequisite for LARPing 101.
Anyway, plot. To avoid a failing grade, the guys approach their prof who, when not dealing in the fine points of Old English epics, goes by the handle of Derek the Unholy – leader of the Black Crusade, ardent LARPer (and, lest you fail to notice, Mike Smith, one of the Trailer Park Boys in days of yore). Of course, in the good name of extracurricular credit, the Unholy challenges the trio to a game of “Demons and Dwarves.” Oh, let the fun begin ... please.
Naturally, the fledgling team needs recruits and Lloyd needs a love interest, which brings us to the blonde Cassandra (Tegan Moss), an ex-cage fighter whose fists are as fierce as her potty-mouth is filthy. That’s a happy coincidence, since the dialogue is the sort that keeps making hard left-hand turns from the faux sacred to the really profane. So LARPers talk like this: “It’s a blast casting aside the shackles of the mundane,” or, “The final battle features the forces of light against the hordes of chaos.” And Cassandra talks like this: “Lloyd, if you win, you can lick my ...” Sorry, can’t print that, but feel free to cast aside the shackles of the mundane and complete the thought yourself.
Admittedly, in these stark linguistic contrasts, not to mention the shoe-string costumes that further complement the shoe-string everything else, some may find a few campy yuks.
Others, those of us unequipped with pop’s proton microscope, will not. And thus we will not take heart when, well before that final battle, Andy the Level 80 Wizard pops up to counsel patience to the forces of light: “You have a long road ahead of you, and it’s really just beginning.”
Damn those hordes of chaos – where are they when we most need them?