#259: Mission to Lars (2011)

Two music documentaries in a row centring on musical acts I don’t care about. If the LCD Soundsystem concert film Shut Up and Play the Hits was austere, Mission to Lars is an effusive look at fandom, family, and cringeworthy metal-heads.

Tom Spicer has the rare genetic syndrome, horribly titled Fragile X. A condition his sister Kate describes as “autism with bells on”, Mission to Lars sees Kate joined by younger, director brother Will try to connect with their socially inept brother, taking him on a trip across America as they try to hunt down Tom’s idol,  the fifth richest drummer in the world, Metallica’s Lars Ulrich.

Often venturing into queasy and saccharine territory, Kate and Will manage to keep the tone of the film light and optimistic. The documentary impetus is rooted in Tom’s adoration for Ulrich, but Mission to Lars’ underlying theme of family love and sibling rivalry is what makes the film so intimate and compelling.

If you’ve seen Some Kind of Monster, are aware of NapsterGate or have heard just about anything on the megalomaniac Lars Ulrich, you’ll probably think of him as a bit of a tight-fisted cockmuncher. Whether he is playing upto the camera or genuinely moved by the Spicer Family’s ambitious journey across the states, he drops his tongue wagging, wanky schtick and is every bit as cordial, charming and sincere as this lovely British documentary.

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