Unrated, but Nimoy took photos of "artistic" nudes and there is some discussion of sexuality. For the most part pretty clean, but then BAM! Outta nowhere...
DIRECTOR: Adam Nimoy
Are you allowed to say anything negative about a documentary about the director's dad made immediately after he died? I'm not saying the movie is bad. Far from it, but I do have to be critical. Or else this entire review will be Shirley from Community spouting "Isn't that nice?" It is nice! It is very nice. But everything I say after this is with the understanding that I do love the very concept of this movie, regardless of its flaws. Geez, I feel like a punk. Look, the kid in the ears up there? The director with his dad...who happens to be Spock. I'm smacking that kid in the face right now.
This is the most shameful sentence I'll say today. (I can't even promise that.) Out of the many Star Trek documentaries I've seen, I have to say that this one isn't my favorite. Forever, that documentary will be Trekkies. I think that's the problem that lies with For the Love of Spock. So much of this content was covered before and better by Trekkies and, to a lesser extent, Trekkies 2. While the focus of this movie is to pay tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy, the movie tries to cover every aspect of Star Trek. I guess that makes a bit of sense when the guy you are paying tribute is the public face of Star Trek. Roddenberry is the visionary. Shatner is...well, Shatner. But Leonard Nimoy as Spock is perhaps the most iconic image from that show. Which means that Adam Nimoy had to go into every aspect of what made Spock and, oddly secondarily, Leonard Nimoy a household name. The final results is a bit of "Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none." The movie is really fast moving and some of the momentum really gets killed by talking about secondary and tertiary ideas from the primary narrative of a kid's relationship to his famous dad. That's the movie I needed to see. Adam Nimoy shared his father with the world and we understood that before going into this movie. We know who Spock was and we know the impact that character made on society. What we didn't know is how much it hurt to not see his father day-in and day-out. When Adam Nimoy touches on those subjects, that's when the movie comes alive. Leonard Nimoy no longer becomes this Hollywood icon, but he becomes a real person. Going to conventions or talking about how Spock's process came about is only a distraction that's been covered in other documentaries, mostly helmed by William Shatner...pun intended.
Maybe I'm going through a bit of fatigue when it comes to pop culture documentaries. I love them for the most part. I teach a film class and it might be the best part of my day. But I've now seen some really important documentaries. Really bummer documentaries and I know that the format can be used for something great. When I got my copy of Star Trek Beyond (there's the sentence!), I watched the brief tribute to Leonard Nimoy on the DVD. I can't help but compare For the Love of Spock to a very impressive DVD special feature. As a film on its own, I don't think it can really stand. I watched it on Netflix and that felt like the right level of investment. Adam Nimoy made a really touching documentary about his strained relationship with his father, but the tone just kind of missed the boat. Perhaps the influence of a demanding Star Trek audience required the tie to be with Spock. Perhaps Adam Nimoy had the same cross to bear as Leonard Nimoy in his acceptance of the character, but not a lot of that comes across. Rather, the movie almost pins the timeline to where Adam is with his father emotionally. While chronologically very effective, these moments come across as afterthoughts. Leonard Nimoy's daughter is an occasional talking head in this movie and she seems so sad about her relationship with her dad, but she never outright spills about what is bothering her. She seems really hurt by something, but these moments are quickly washed away with footage from a Las Vegas Star Trek convention.
There is a time crunch. As a Star Trek fan myself, I suppose I was hurting after the loss of Leonard Nimoy. Adam Nimoy had to rush this film through production because this almost reads like a tribute film rather than a real look at a family broken apart by celebrity. The implication that tensions were high are peppered through, but no one wants to crap on the dead. Adam Nimoy, according to the doc, made peace with his father and developed a strong relationship at the end. If that is true, Mazel Tov. Perhaps Adam Nimoy wanted to share his father with the fans one last time, but I know that there needs to be more self-reflection. Regardless, I am happy he made this movie. Between being a Star Trek fan, a film fan, and a guy who had father issues, I applaud that he made this. I just wonder if it could have been something bigger.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.