Hardcore role-playing gamers are, by their very nature, a colorful and eccentric lot – be they part of the crowd that roll die or the folks who actually don faux armor and “battle” one another in the real world. It makes all the more sense that such devoted (geeky) hobbyists should lend themselves naturally to the sort of ultra-low-budget, quirky indie comedy in the vein of the 2004 cult hit – and its animated TV show spinoff – Napoleon Dynamite.
That’s exactly the case with Unicorn City, an upcoming indie project that (like actor Jon Heder’s breakout flick) is in part the handiwork of small-time Utah-based filmmakers. Unicorn City was also co-written and directed by Bryan Lefler, who served as a storyboard artist and script supervisor on the original Napoleon Dynamite – so, again, it’s easy to connect the two, without even having watched a single bit of footage from the former.
Here is an official lowdown on the plot of Unicorn City:
Game developer, Warlocks of the Beach, has offered Voss (Devin McGinn), a currently unemployed, table-top gamer, a management job if he can demonstrate real leadership skills—if not, he will end up making fish tacos for his brother, Jeff (Kevin Weisman). But deep inside Voss sees himself as a Bardladin, a singing knight and believes that “you are what you pretend to be”.
Given one week to prove himself, Voss convinces Marsha (Jaclyn Hales), a long-time gamer friend to play along (she actually has always been in love with him) and help him entice the guild into his scheme to get a job. She will document and record his abilities. He recruits his other rather dopey brother, Clancy (Matt Mattson), to essentially play Sancho to his Don Quixote. If he can keep UC running for a couple of days without the guild knowing his alternative motive, the job will be his.
Now, check out the official trailer for Unicorn City below – and see what you make of this new light-hearted comedy about ultra-devoted (geeky) hobbyists:
Much like… well, virtually every unabashedly off-kilter indie laughfest ever made, Unicorn City comes off as the kind of film that people will either find charmingly sweet and good-natured – or, conversely, too cutesy and “clean” for their tastes. Similar to Napoleon Dynamite, this appears to be the sort of movie that’s going to prompt mostly love/hate reactions, with fewer moviegoers left sitting on the fence.
Our two cents: this flick seems harmless enough and pleasantly affectionate towards RPGers that it’s kind of hard to hate on, even if the “friendly” broad comedy and rom-com angle glimpsed here isn’t really your cup of tea. Besides, the characters comes off as pretty endearing – and, let’s be honest, it’s kind to impossible to not (in some way) admire people who are willing to actually dress up as, and behave like, fantastical Medieval warriors.
Unicorn City will begin a limited theatrical release in Utah on February 24th, 2012. It will expand wider in the weeks thereafter.