The man behind the ears: For the Love of Spock ***

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on September 17, 2016)

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Even the unflappable Mr. Spock himself (had he actually existed) might have arched an eyebrow at the prodigious outpouring of sentiment surrounding the passing of “his” alter-ego Leonard Nimoy last year. That, coupled with recent TV marathons and associated hoopla marking the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek series, makes Adam Nimoy’s heartfelt documentary about his father all the more timely (and touching).

While careful to compartmentalize Leonard Nimoy the human being from his Star Trek character’s indelible legacy, For the Love of Spock still manages to maintain a fairly even tone between personal reflection and fan-pleasing celebration.

Like a lot of show-biz kids, Adam had to come to terms with having to “share” his famous parent with legions of adoring fans. In fact, between the ages of 10-13, Adam saw very little of his father, due to his involvement with the original run of Star Trek (1966-1969). While he doesn’t go into specifics, Adam refers to periods of their lives where he and his father had “issues” communicating with each other.

Undoubtedly, not having one of his parents around while he was weathering the raging hormonal changes of puberty may have been a contributing factor. Nimoy doesn’t sugarcoat the bad times, either; particularly in reference to his father’s career slide in the early 1970s (in the wake of the unceremonious cancellation of the series by the network), which led to some problems with alcohol.

Thankfully,  Nimoy avoids descending into the kind of navel-gazing that has sunk a few similar documentaries that deal with growing up in the shadow of a famous parent. He remains mindful of the film’s core audience, devoting the lion’s share to, well, the love of Spock.

There’s lots of archival footage, plus snippets Leonard Nimoy did for this film (which was still in production when he passed away). There are also observations by fans, cast members of the current Star Trek film franchise, and former colleagues like William Shatner, George Takei, Michelle Nichols and Walter Koenig (Koenig shares a little-told backstage tale about the voice casting for the Star Trek cartoon series that speaks volumes about Nimoy’s generosity of spirit).

If I have any quibbles, it would be with the syrupy music score, which is over-intrusive at times. The film might feel a tad overlong for some (especially if you’re not a Trekker). But its heart is in the right place; and for those of a certain age, it’s a pleasingly nostalgic wallow.

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