Leonard Nimoy's 1975 memoir I Am Not Spock stirred fan outrage: How dare the actor, who was indeed Spock in the original Star Trek series, publicly dismiss his beloved half-human, half-Vulcan alter ego? But according to Adam Nimoy, Leonard's son and the director of the heartwarming but uninventive documentary For the Love of Spock, his father didn't write that title out of spite. Instead, Nimoy wanted to emphasize the biographical nature of the book -- that despite his character's popularity, he had a life of his own.
Adam's film pulls from that memoir -- and from Leonard's second book, apologetically titled I Am Spock -- as well as from interviews and personal experience to tell the actor's story. We learn that it was a guest appearance on a 1964 episode of The Lieutenant that drew the attention of Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek. We're treated to a clip: Leonard looks trim in a tight marine uniform, his young face handsome and angular. "I saw that face and thought he'd make a great alien," says Roddenberry in a decades-old recording.
Roddenberry loved Leonard's minimalist acting style, which was inspired, we're told, by Harry Belafonte, whose slight, carefully timed gestures made audiences scream with delight. Adam's film takes pains to show this influence in action: During a Trek scene of an alien attack, as the crew around him flails, Spock responds with a single arched eyebrow.
Adam tells his father's story with love, but he resists hagiography. He delves deep into their fraught relationship and the drinking problem they shared. Less fascinating is his analysis of Spock's cultural influence, which begins and ends with the fact that fans love him.