Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Antoine Bardou-Jacquet|
|Produced by||Georges Bermann|
|Written by||Dean Craig|
|Edited by||Bill Smedley|
Moonwalkers is a 2015 French comedy film directed by Antoine Bardou-Jacquet in his directorial debut, and written by Dean Craig. The film stars Ron Perlman, Rupert Grint, and Robert Sheehan. The film is based on Moon landing conspiracy theories. The film had its world premiere at SXSW on March 14, 2015. The film was released on January 15, 2016, in a limited release and through video on demand by Alchemy.
In the days leading up to the Apollo 11 Moon landing, CIA agent Tom Kidman is tasked with hiring Stanley Kubrick to film a fake moonwalk, in the event the astronauts fail in their mission. The CIA views the Moon landing as a potential ideological victory over the Soviet Union, necessary for American morale. The CIA provides Kidman with a large sum of cash in a briefcase to act as an incentive for Kubrick, with orders to murder Kubrick upon completion of the mission to prevent the story from leaking out. Unbeknownst to the CIA, Kidman is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder due to time spent in Vietnam, and feels compelled to respond to any frustration with extreme violence.
Kidman travels to England to speak with Kubrick's agent, only to accidentally hold a meeting with the agent's cousin, Jonny Thorpe, a struggling band promoter in debt to an East End gangster named the Iron Monger. Jonny agrees to arrange a sit-down between Kidman and Kubrick, then convinces his stoner roommate Leon to pose as the director. Leon and Kidman meet, and Jonny accepts the briefcase of money, promising that the movie will be made. Thinking that Kidman is simply a Hollywood producer, the pair go on a spending spree before the Iron Monger's henchman break into Jonny's house, beat him, and steal the briefcase.
Kidman sees a news story about Stanley Kubrick on television and realizes he didn't meet with the real man. He confronts Jonny, who confesses his scheme. Seeing an opportunity to establish himself as a success, Jonny promises that a friend of his, a director named Renatus, can film a fake Moon landing. Jonny takes Kidman to meet Renatus at the director's mansion, which he has turned into a commune. Thinking that he's being hired for an art project, Renatus accepts. Meanwhile, a hippie girl named Ella takes an interest in Kidman.
Kidman takes Jonny to confront the Iron Monger and get the briefcase of money back. Rather than negotiate with the Iron Monger, Kidman murders several of his henchmen and takes the briefcase back by force. Production is stalled when Renatus insists on approaching the film as a piece of performance art, intending to include several artistic flourishes. In an attempt to show off his alleged immunity to marijuana, Kidman takes a hit from a bong, which turns out to have been laced with opium. In an effort to help him recover from the effects, Ella gives him LSD, sending Kidman on a bad trip, after which he has sex with Ella. In the throes of his trip, Kidman tells Ella and Leon that he no longer feels compelled to solve his problems with violence. Afterwards, he makes an incoherent call to the CIA, attempting to update them on his status.
Alarmed by Kidman's call, the CIA sends several agents to England. They take the entire commune hostage and force everyone to begin filming the fake Moon landing. Jonny and Leon take on the roles of the astronauts; Leon, nervous at the prospect of being on television, gets high and begins having a trip on set, stumbling around the fake Moon surface. Meanwhile, the Iron Monger arrives and engages in a shootout with the CIA, which results in most of the Iron Monger's henchmen and the CIA agents being killed. In the midst of the shootout, the fake footage is successfully broadcast via closed circuit to CIA headquarters. Jonny, feeling like he finally has the opportunity to make a difference in the world, attempts to protect Kidman from the Iron Monger but is shot. After killing the Iron Monger, Kidman tells a stunned Jonny that his space suit absorbed the bullet, and lies that Jonny's interference saved his life.
Now wanted by the CIA, Jonny, Leon, Kidman, and Ella flee England. A montage shows news clips of American life throughout the 1960s, culminating with Apollo 11 reaching the Moon. In Spain, Jonny, Leon, Ella, and Kidman enter a bar in time to watch the Moon landing with several villagers. The quartet are unable to tell if the landing is real or if they're watching their own fake footage.
- Ron Perlman as Kidman
- Rupert Grint as Jonny
- Robert Sheehan as Leon
- Eric Lampaert as Glen
- Tom Audenaert as Renatus
- Kerry Shale as Mr. White
- John Flanders as CIA Agent Murphy
- Andrew Blumenthal as Kozinsky
- Jay Benedict as Colonel Dickford
- Kevin Bishop as Paul
- James Cosmo as Dawson
- Stephen Campbell Moore as Derek Kaye
- Erika Sainte as Ella
In June 2014, it was announced that Ron Perlman, Rupert Grint, Robert Sheehan, Stephen Campbell Moore, Kevin Bishop and James Cosmo had joined the cast of the film. It was also announced Antoine Bardou-Jacquet would be directing the film, from a screenplay by Dean Craig. It was also announced Kinology had signed on to finance the film and handle international sales. Principal photography began on May 14, 2014.
The film premiered at South by Southwest on March 14, 2015. On March 16, 2015, Alchemy picked up distribution rights to the film. The film was released in the United States on January 15, 2016, in a limited release and through video on demand.
Moonwalkers received mixed reviews from film critics. It holds a 42% "Rotten" rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 38 reviews, with an average score of 5.06/10. On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 39 out of 100, based on 10 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews.
John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a mixed review writing: "Too much faith has been put in the comic value of Dean Craig's screenplay, which offers plenty of mishaps and shocking violent outbursts, but not so many laughs. Aside from a look at Renatus's pretentiously goofy most recent film, the funniest thing here is the most predictable scene, a sequence in which crew-cut, all-business Kidman gets dosed with acid. For a moment, Johnny turns into the grown-up of the bunch — a terrifying prospect for a plan that was counting on having a perfectionist cinematic genius at the helm." Susan Wloszczyna of RogerEbert.com gave the film a negative review, writing: "Forget a fake moon landing. "Moonwalkers" is a fake comedy, one that mistakes an endless bloody splatter-fest of a finale for the height of hilarity and never quite gets off the ground after takeoff."
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