19 May 2022
Will Forget, Tom Knoblauch
Will Knoblauch, Will Forget, Erica Gardner
A former child-actor is desperate to prove his life has not been one long epilogue in Moving Parts, a sharp, snappy and satirical feature from director and star Tom Knoblauch.
When Will (Will Forget), star of a popular chimp-based movie franchise returns to his hometown of Omaha to collect a lifetime achievement award, Nebraska public television host Tom (Tom Knoblauch) is tasked with following him around and producing a profile of the hometown ‘hero’. The pair embark on an odyssey through Will’s life, as they ruminate on what it means to be a success, and whether fame and fortune fulfil this.
Moving Parts is an enigma of a film that utilises its indefinable quality to its utmost. Part buddy-movie, part Curb-your-enthusiasm-style farce, part epic-journey - what appears to be a straightforward and inward-facing premise ends up touching on some rather profound themes and developments that allow for unexpected introspection as well as genuine laughs. The deconstruction of Will and his desperate need to be respected as an important figure in his hometown touch on tragic and relatable feelings that plague us all, whilst still allowing us as the audience to sit suitably smug at how hilariously badly he personally handles his meagre status.
The film conjures its tightly scripted dialogue into some memorable scenes that would not look out-of-place if they were delivered by masters of comedic cynicism like Jerry Seinfeld or Larry David. A discussion of the likelihood of post-lifetime achievement award success is both comedically brilliant and thought-provoking, whilst Will’s audition-prep scene is an enjoyable demonstration of his overwrought ego. A shout-out to The Odyssey feels appropriate as a series of memorable characters are encountered, such as Will’s former professor Scott Mills (John Bowen) or Pastor Lewis (Darrick Silkman) whose distinct and outrageous personalities are given room to shine.
Thematically the film’s examination of Will’s success, and the yearning for acknowledgement he still maintains despite his alleged fame is achingly relatable to anyone who wonders if they will never match past glories. His failure to maintain any kind of healthy relationship is evident, and viewers begin to relate to Tom’s curiosity-driven loyalty and bizarre appreciation for a man who is short on redeeming qualities, but has ultimately been shaped by a ruthless world, and discarded just as quickly. Audiences will gain an understanding that Will’s brazen arrogance is a shield against this, even as their eyes roll at his unearned self-worth.
Will Forget’s performance as his name-sake is suitably aloof, yet human enough to allow the audience to connect to his interior vulnerability. Whilst Tom Knoblauch plays the straight man, searching for an angle whilst slowly gaining an understanding of his strange celebrity subject. The chemistry the pair share is the film’s bloodline, and allows the philosophical debates and Seinfeldian conversations that feature prominently to sustain themselves without coming across as pretentious or pointless.
Moving Parts proves that not every odyssey has to be an epic, and not every buddy movie has to feature actual buddies. But with a sharp script and a satirical eye, its cynical-yet-understanding story of different sides of success is endearing and entertaining in equal measure.