LARPing to conclusions

LARPing to conclusions


Not that there's anything wrong with golf.

Hello, my name is Jennifer and I've just entered the 21st century.

In other words, we finally broke down and signed up for Netflix. 

This is especially embarrassing to admit given I have a family member who has worked for that company for several years now. But hey, we just so rarely sit down and watch anything, or at least not anything that we couldn't get some other way, such as checking it out from the library or borrowing it from my father-in-law's 300-plus DVD stash. A formal monthly commitment didn't seem necessary.

However, this past year we had Amazon Prime for a while, which was a pretty good investment, and we watched enough movies through that service that it seemed time to join the Netflix game. So here we are.

And what was the first movie we watched with all our new technology availability? Glad you asked. Apologies in advance for the PG language, but this is the formal title for the film: "Knights of Badassdom."

How could you not want to see a movie with a name like that? 

OK, don't answer that. But consider the fact that Husband and I are both card-carrying nerdy geeks (geeky nerds?) who have been reading, watching and playing games involving swords and sorcery since we were tweens. We couldn't possibly pass up that title. 

So we sat down this past week and tuned in. 

Basic plot: A handful of fans of Live Action Role Playing, LARP-ers for short, go to a LARP event and accidentally call up a real demon. Chaos ensues. 

Basic review: The premise is ludicrous. The special effects are cheesy. The ending is absurd. The language is Not Safe For Pre-Teens.

Naturally, we both loved it.

Bad movies are a lot more fun when the characters are fully aware they're in a bad movie and play it to the hilt, as these guys did. Plus, it featured Peter Dinklage ("Game of Thrones") and Summer Glau ("Firefly"), so what's not to like?

Also, it was obvious the filmmakers are gamers themselves. They love these characters. Sure, they're geeky and over the top and perhaps a tad obsessive about their hobby ("My mom made me that mace!"), but these are heroes.

This is not a movie made to explain LARPing to the uninitiated. This movie assumes you know, and are fully prepared to both skewer and celebrate.

And oh yes, I do know these people. At times, particularly when the Renaissance Faire is in town, I greatly resemble these people. 

My role-playing activities are the dice-and-tabletop kind, but I get the appeal of LARPing. Who wouldn't want to be an ax-wielding Amazon for an afternoon? Or a pious priestess with a Holy Smite spell in her repertoire? This is live, improv theater, sans stage. Put on the fairy wings, grab the magic spellbooks and crank back the crossbows. Let the Battle of Evermore begin!

The way I see it, LARPing is no different than the Civil War re-enactors. Or the people who do Living History museums, where they milk cows and run spinning wheels so you can see what life was like back in the day. It's just like playing a part onstage at your local community theater. Why should we outgrow Let's Pretend when it's so much fun? 

Ironically, the movie's antagonists (besides the demon) are a bunch of paintballers who like to dress up in camouflage and go shooting at each other in the woods. Explain to me again why that's different.

This isn't meant to be a 5-cent critic review. If you're familiar at all with the role-playing world, grab your DM and your merry band of adventurers and watch it; if not, it's not going to do a thing for you except make you wonder about the effects of heavy metal on today's youth. 

Mostly, my muddled moral here is that role-playing is no less a worthy activity for those who enjoy it than any other hobby: hiking, puzzles, shooting hoops, searching out movies on your new Netflix account with titles like, "Knights of Badassdom."

In the immortal words of John Lennon, whatever gets you through the night. But watch out for demons.


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