Mission To Lars
Directed by James Moore & Will Spicer
Starring Tom Spicer, Will Spicer, Kate Spicer
Spicer Moore Films
Released 6 June, 2012 (Limited UK & U.S.)
To Major Tom
Metallica. One of the biggest metal bands on the planet. Surrounded by layers of PR, management, assistants, groupies and crew. Everyone one wants a slice of the four piece from â€˜Frisco.
In the bedroom of his West Country home Tom Spicer proudly wears his Metallica t-shirts, collects their music and head-bangs along to it (â€œEnter Sandmanâ€ is his favourite), but Tom is not your average metal head. Tom has Fragile X syndrome, a condition described by his sister Kate Spicer as “autism with bells on.” For the last twenty years Tom has made his dream clear to his family telling them regularly, “Wanna meet Lars, wanna meet Lars.” Lars Ulrich is of course Metallicaâ€™s drummer and Mission To Lars, directed by James Moore and Tomâ€™s younger brother Will Spicer, documents the Spicer siblings embarking on a road trip so that Tom can meet his hero.
Although they want to do this for their brother the list of things to bear in mind just to get Tom to agree to the trip gets longer and more challenging with every person Will and Kate talk to. Including his dislike of crowds, loud noises, and Tomâ€™s propensity for wearing two pairs of underpants at a time: “Youâ€™ll have to keep an eye on that,” says their dad.
On the day of the “launch” from Devon to California Tom goes missing and suddenly the mission seems a whole lot bigger than they had initially realised. You begin to wonder if itâ€™s worth all the stress Tom is obviously under just to leave his home and the safety of his job.
Obviously Mission To Lars is not a documentary about Metallica at all and the longer the journey lasts the more Kate and Will realise this is more than just a mission to meet a rock star; itâ€™s about being a better family. Those with siblings will know that brothers and sisters can be the greatest people in your life. They can also be the most intensely annoying and ill-behaved – neither Will, Kate nor Tom are â€“ presence in your life. Finding a balance is key to keeping a relationship with them as you get older. Due to family issues and Tomâ€™s condition this balance has never been found between the Spicerâ€™s and there are moments of typical family tension as they strive to find it.
Kate especially wants Tom to enjoy the trip, like she admits, to appease her own guilt of not being the best sister she could have been to Tom. This is a jarringly honest admission â€“ one among many during the film â€“ which really made me warm to the family.
You quickly begin to realise just how massive the Metallica machine is and what a huge undertaking it will be just to get someone near the band to talk to them. But they are all so likeable that you root for them throughout.
There are times at the beginning where it was maybe too dramatic and felt a little like false jeopardy to pique viewersâ€™ interest. Really this was not entirely needed as all three of them were so great to watch I wished the film was longer. By the end I adored every one of them and even being the hulking great man-mountain of testosterone that I am (not) I was emotionally spent by the end. Mission To Lars is one of the most uplifting and spirited documentaries I have seen in a long while.
It might even inspire some viewers to go on a mission of their own. It might feel like pulling teeth at times, but you never know what you can achieve unless you start the engine.