It’s a great title, almost too perfect. ‘Mission to Lars‘. Before seeing the film, it’d be easy to presume that the film would be one of those heart-warming but completely dull tales about a poor young man who lives his dreams and finally gets to meet his hero. In some a way, this film fits that bill. The subject of this film however, Thomas, is so interesting, funny, and honest, that it’s impossible not to get drawn in and, in fact, really want him to succeed.
Tom Spicer has Fragile-X syndrome which, as his journalist sister Kate points out, is like ‘autism with bells on’. She, along with film-maker and youngest brother Will, decides to grant Tom his greatest wish – a meet-and-greet with his all-time hero, Lars Ulrich of Metallica. They would document their journey, and hopefully get to know their brother a little bit better in the process.
Anyone familiar with the public image of Lars Ulrich will immediately experience a slight lurch in the pit of their stomach when they read the synopsis of the film – vulnerable fan wants to meet Lars Ulrich. Not known for being the most sensitive, kind or generous person in the world, he often seems (publicly, at any rate) to be a giant prat. The brainier readers out there will not be surprised to learn that Tom absolutely gets to meet Lars, as there probably wouldn’t be a film if he didn’t; what is a surprise, however, is just how nice Lars is and how understanding he is of Tom’s needs. In fact, the look of pure joy on Tom’s face just to have Lars standing right in front of him is enough to make the most cynical of hearts melt on the spot.
What could easily have been an irritating film about two irritating people treating their disabled brother to a trip and being irritating everywhere actually comes across as a very honest film, in which emotions are faced head-on and the realities of Tom’s condition are revealed in ways that neither Kate nor Will expected. The film occasionally veers into melodrama, as two media types who are aware of the need for dramatic tension in the film seem to knowingly argue in front of Tom (something that was expressly pointed out as A Bad Thing earlier on in the film), but luckily the focus remains on Tom, and he is a worthy and likeable subject – two words that could easily describe this film.