Monster Camp

 Posted by at 2:37 am  Comments Off on Monster Camp
Feb 182010

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.



 Posted by at 2:47 am  1 Response »
Feb 162010

I gotta tell ya, folks, Chocolate threw me for a loop. I went into it expecting your standard kung-fu kick-em-up. Instead, I was one-inch-punched in the heart by the touching story of a lovable young autistic girl named Zen. And then when my defenses were lowered, I was E. Honda hundred-hand-slapped in the fucking mouth with some of the most bad-ass and creative martial arts choreography I’ve seen in a while.

Here’s the deal: So there’s this chick Zin who’s the girlfriend of a crazy-ass Thai mob boss. She falls in love with this dude Massahi, who works for a Thai chapter of the Yakuza. They have a short but active love affair and are finally exposed. Needless to say, the boss is pretty pissed about this and cuts ties with Zin, leaving her to fend for herself.  He also banishes Massahi back to Japan and informs him in no uncertain terms that his relationship with Zin is over as hell. However, unbeknownst to the now absent Massahi, Zin is preggers and she eventually pops out their love child Zen, who, as it turns out, is autistic. But wait. It gets better.

Because being the unemployed single mother of an autistic child isn’t enough, Zin ups the ante by getting cancer. Luckily, one day Zin meets a portly young street urchin named Moom and adopts him when she realizes his potential for a.) much needed  assistance with Zen, and b.) bumbling-fat-kid comic relief. (Good call, Zin.)

So we all know what happens next, right? Just as things look their worst, Massahi finds out what’s happening and his love for Zin and the daughter he’s never met is so great that in the face of death, he goes rogue and karate chops his way back to his family to prove love conquers all. DUDE I AM KIDDING THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN AT ALL.

Massahi apparently isn’t one to rock the boat, so he just chills in Japan doing Yakuza stuff. What the fuck, right? So far, despite the goofy fat kid, this just sounds like a really super sad movie. Wouldn’t it be great if all the sudden it started kicking ass?

If movies have taught me anything, it’s that autistic folks are essentially awkward super-computers. However, Zen is a little different. Sure, she’s quiet, has no social skills, and has a penchant for sorting her M&Ms by color, but she also has Daredevil-style reflexes and can perfectly mimic fight scenes from old kung-fu movies. Interesting, but when will this come in handy? Well, Moom finds Zin’s old mob ledger containing the names of crooked business owners that owe her money. He decides that he and Zen should go collect on these debts to pay for Zin’s chemo treatments. Not surprisingly, when confronted by a fat kid and an autistic girl demanding payment on a mob debt, the owners tell them to get lost. But what Zen lacks in social grace, she makes up for in tenacity. She basically goes bat-shit and kung-fus the hell out of the owner’s goons and takes the money by force. This scenario plays out many more times with various assholes and their hapless cronies, all leading to an epic showdown with the mob boss.

Do you understand what I’m saying here?

This movie is about a sweet, lovable 13-year-old autistic ninja girl beating the ever-living shit out of bad guys and taking their money to save her dying mother while a fat kid watches.

This movie is fucking amazing. I give it 10 out of 10 roundhouse kicks to the solar plexus. Watch it right now.

What’s that? Not convinced? Did I mention that the evil mob boss’ entourage consists entirely of  karate-chopping gun-toting Thai lady-boys and one mildly retarded breakdancing ninja?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Watch the fucking movie, dummy.