Fanboys Review

It’s only just that the anticipation for a movie about anticipating Star Wars is almost as highly anticipated by Star Wars fans.

After years of reshoots, a studio wanting changes, and a passionate grassroots effort by fans to keep the original version of the film intact, Fanboys is finally released. Does it live up to the hype? Let’s just say that it’s at least way more satisfying than The Phantom Menace—which is the holy grail in the film’s crusade.

It’s Halloween 1998 and Episode I doesn’t come out for another six months. For a group of Star Wars geeks in Ohio, they see nothing better in their future. The problem is that one of them, the cancer-ridden Linus (Chris Marquette), won’t live to see the release date. So the gang—composed of awkward nerd Windows (Jay Baruchel), hot geek Zoe (Kristen Bell) and Rush-obsessed man-child Hutch (Dan Fogler)—load up a van one weekend to drive all the way to the Bay Area, the site of George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch. The plan? Break in and steal a rough cut of the film. Along the way, they meet wacky characters, fight a war against Trekkies and revive Linus’ lost friendship with Eric (Sam Huntington), the responsible—but miserable—member of the crew who had traded in his Stormtrooper costume for a suit-and-tie at his dad’s used car lot.

The cancer plot, the cause of all the controversy surrounding the film’s production (The Weinstein Company tried to remove it from the film and the real fanboys revolted), is handled in a remarkably befitting manner. It’s not dwelled on too much for it to hamper the lighthearted tone of the movie, yet it’s not easily dismissed either. It’s effective because it grounds a distant topic like death with such a tangible regret like Star Wars. Not many of us can empathize with having cancer or fully grasp what it’s like to die, but we can all relate to the fear of not being able to live to see something you look forward to more than anything else. So what if for these geeks, that thing is just a movie? Does it really matter what that thing is? Fanboys would lose a big chunk of its heart and sense of camaraderie if it didn’t have this side to it.

The best thing about Fanboys—and for what it strives to be, there is no higher compliment—is that it’s 100% pure Star Wars love. Often times, with these specific topic comedies, the idiosyncrasy of the premise gets dropped in favor of broader jokes (typically of the gas and genitalia variety). Fanboys manages to maintain a constant reference to Star Wars no matter what the situation is, which is rather impressive. It takes familiar episodes of road trip comedies and gives each of them a Star Wars spin. Even the obligatory “peyote in the desert” moment becomes just another opening for Ewok and Sith gags.

No, a keen knowledge of Star Wars trivia isn’t required to find the movie funny, but it does help. While Fanboys inserts moments that are funny in its execution, there’s always a little bone thrown at the true fanboys. It’s comical in itself that George Lucas would force his security guards to dress like androids, but it’s even funnier if you know they’re from THX-1138—and one of them played by Darth Maul himself! Yes, the measure even extends to the burst of cameos involved. Much more enjoyable if you know their repertoire.

It’s a movie made lovingly for Star Wars fanboys and a worthy representation of what’s so great about being a fanboy, without resorting to any self-congratulating or lecturing. Early in the movie, before their rekindling, Linus and Eric fall into their old routine of debating the moral acceptability of Luke kissing Leia. After a heated shouting match, Eric whines, “Come on, man, who cares about this shit?” Pretending to be above the petty fanaticism, though he himself couldn’t help it. “I do!” Linus asserts, pointing to the Star Wars t-shirt he’s wearing; dejected that Eric had to even ask. They part ways, ending on that note.

What else is there to say? That’s how it is when you become a fan of something. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to anyone else, but it doesn’t have to. It’s such a compliment that there’s a movie that understands this feeling and puts it out there. Geek culture doesn’t need to be put on a pedestal—it already wears its merits on its sleeve. It's all about the celebration of it.

"Fanboys" opens February 6, 2009 and is rated PG13. Comedy. Directed by Kyle Newman. Written by Ernest Cline & Dan Pulick (story), Ernest Cline & Adam F. Goldberg (screenplay). Starring Christopher Marquette, Dan Fogler, Jay Baruchel, Kristen Bell, Sam Huntington, Seth Rogen.

Feb
06
2009
Arya Ponto • Contributor

As former Editor of JPP, Arya likes to entertain peeps with his thoughts on pop culture, when he's not busy watching Battle Royale for the 200th time. He lives in Brooklyn with a comic book collection that's always the most daunting thing to move with, and writes for Artboiled.com.

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