Film review: ‘Gary Numan: Android in La La Land’

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‘Gary Numan: Android in La La Land’ is a documentary about British musical innovator Gary Numan (real name – Gary Webb), which was screened at this year’s Hot Docs festival in Toronto as part of Canadian Music Week. The film follows Webb as he packs up his family and they move from rural England to Los Angeles, all while he was recording and launching his 2013 album ‘Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind)’.  He finishes his first LP of all-new material in seven years in Los Angeles, experiencing all the anxiety and exhaustion that comes with both moving across the world and releasing a record. The documentary was produced by Rob Alexander, and filmed & directed by Steve Read. Watch the trailer via YouTube below.

‘Gary Numan: Android in La La Land’ is split into the two themes – Webb’s home life / past and the story revolving around the new album. The back story about Webb’s past, anxiety and rise to fame (and subsequent fall) was really interesting to hear directly from Webb. Also, seeing how he interacts with his wife Gemma and daughters gives a glimpse into what he’s like personally and how he deals with his personal issues; this is interesting whether you’re a fan or not. The scenes revolving around the new album and live performances would likely only be of interest to fans. I would have preferred that Alexander and Read focused more on the Webb’s personal life rather than the new album. This isn’t to say there was no place for the new album recording and launch, but putting less focus on that story would have strengthened the film.

There were also a few holes that weren’t explained; for example, they talked about Webb getting himself severely in debt due to extravagant live lighting and production spending, yet he moves into a huge mansion in Los Angeles. The film is about his return after 7 years of silence and having been in severe debt, how can he can afford this enormous mansion? This just left more questions after the film – not in a good way.

Overall, it was a very interesting documentary, and a must-see especially for Numan fans, even with the disjointed explanations. For non-fans, check it out on DVD or stream it, when its out and fast forward through the album related footage to make it more enjoyable for you.

The interactions with his wife and children made me hope that someone should create a reality television show about them. They’re really genuine, interesting, lovely people, and I’d like to see more of them.

For more information on ‘Gary Numan: Android in La La Land,’ visit