If you’ve never heard of LARP before, then congratulations – you’re obviously doing pretty well for yourself. But while you were busy furthering your career and getting to touch boobs, you missed out on something pretty unbelievable.
LARP stands for Live Action Role Playing and it’s a much bigger phenomenon than you’d expect or hope. Essentially, it’s a game of Dungeons and Dragons where, rather than rolling some dice and talking about it, you and your buddies dress up like your characters and go on adventures in the woods finding treasure and battling foes.
What? You’re not familiar with D&D? Okay, then it’s like acting out a campaign from World of Warcraft in character. Really? You still don’t get it? Okay, remember when you were little and you and your buddies would play swords and you’d be like “I got you! You’re dead!” and your buddy would be like “Nuh-uh cuz I got a magic shield!” and you’d be like “So? My sword is magic and cuts through magic shields!” and your buddy would be like “For real?” and you’d be like “Yeah, totally” and your buddy would be like “AAARRRGGG! I’M DEAD!!!!”? Yeah, well, it’s pretty much like that.
Anyway, in Seattle there is a LARP organization by the name of NERO and its founders/members are the subject of this oddly compelling documentary.
The “stars” of Monster Camp are not just nerds. They are that rare, almost unbelievable breed of über-nerd that even I, (a guy with a cat in his lap, surrounded by Star Wars figures, blogging about a documentary he watched on his XBox), would de-pants and give a swirly to. But do the filmmakers take advantage of their social naiveté by choosing unflattering camera angles, manipulating the subjects into embarrassing situations, and/or impudently editing scenes to make the subjects appear to be charlatans? Not for a second.
Rather than parading these outsiders across the screen for us to laugh at, the filmmakers present the characters and events with an air of dignity akin to a PBS special about an isolated island culture (but without an annoying posh British man spelling everything out for you and dropping his tone an octave at the end of every sentence).
Now don’t get me wrong here – this documentary isn’t trying to make the world take LARP seriously. It’s obviously the goofiest thing to happen since baggy bondage pants. But the filmmakers make the bold assumption that you, the viewer, are not a total moron and decide to let you discover the humor yourself, rather than hitting you over the head with it for 79 minutes.
All in all, this documentary is pretty awesome and just plain fun. Plus, if after watching it you ever find yourself stuck in an elevator with a dude wearing a cape, you guys should totally have something to talk about.
To see how many HP I give this movie, roll 2D6 (drop lowest, +3 CON).
A Second Opinion
I took a liking to just about every person in Monster Camp. This is a documentary about a bunch of people who never managed (or simply refused) to abandon their imagination upon entering adulthood, and I think that’s pretty cool. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of LARP, and you classify yourself a nerd in an sense, then you will probably get a kick out of this movie. If not, then you should probably skip it.