Mission To Lars

Expect to see giant, beardy metal heads weep into their Jaeger-flavoured popcorn at screenings for this warm hug of a film.

Released in cinemas 8th June 2012.

Kate Spicer is a journalist and her youngest brother Will a filmaker, and together the two siblings decide to grant the wish of their Metallica mad brother Tom to meet his hero, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. Tom constantly asks when he is going to meet Lars; the major obstacle to this happening is not that Lars is part of one of the biggest heavy metal bands and is therefore an ‘untouchable celebrity’ but that Tom has Fragile X syndrome, a form of autism that Kate desribes as ‘autism with bells on.’

Mission to Lars turns out to be just as much about Kate and the rarely seen on screen Will (he’s too busy actually filming proceedings) and their realisation that they hardly know their brother or how to deal with his Fragile X.

The first part of the mission seems to hinge on blagging their way backstage somehow and meeting the entertaining Danish tub thumper during the band’s mammoth US tour. With show tickets bought, flights booked and the advice of a seasoned roadie ringing in their ears, the sobering list of Tom’s needs provided by his parents and carers gives the well-meaning pair an idea of the frustrations to come.

After arriving late to pick up Tom and begin their journey they’ve already broken his routine and sent him into something of a meltdown, and it soon becomes a mission just to get him to the airport. With the aid of their stepmother, disaster is averted and the mission begins in earnest. Driving to each US gig in an RV, Will and Kate bicker in front of their brother who refuses to attend the first show and remains in the trailer with Will while Kate parties the night away, only to emerge bleary-eyed in the morning. It soon becomes evident that the atmosphere between his brother and sister is a huge contributing factor to Tom’s distress and the two vow to remedy this and get him into a gig.

Along with the incredible amount of red tape that’s wrapped around a band as big as Metallica and Tom’s uncertainty about attending a show amongst the large crowds, we learn that the noise is ten times louder for someone with Fragile X than it would be for you or I, and the sense that perhaps the mission will fall apart becomes a very real possibilty.

Fortunately this is a feel-good and life-affirming documentary: sweet, funny and with a fist-in-the-air ending of Tom fulfiling his dream. Lars Ulrich proves himself to be a diamond, one who manages to be totally genuine with Tom, palling around with this challenging but charming fan.

Expect to see giant, beardy metal heads weep into their Jaeger-flavoured popcorn at screenings for this warm hug of a film that proves anything is possible. Brilliant.

Rating: 8/10