So here’s the thing: This is a documentary nominally about “nerd culture,” but it’s actually good. As many nerds have noticed, there’s a glut of nerd-positive documentaries out there, but they tend to be either too self-serious, or too focused on the trappings of fandom to actually say much.
Traceroute manages to be a real film, with humor and true insight (sometimes called out for us—and delightfully nullified—with a blinking “INSIGHT” faux-HTML tag onscreen), primarily because it focuses on Grenzfurthner’s personal journey, and he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Let’s put that another way: The director uses himself and a handful of subjects to create his story, and that specificity—coupled with his playfulness—makes it work. At one point he licks the chrome head of a Terminator prop. Then he licks a zombie head prop. Then he licks the propmaster himself. It’s delightful.