Once upon a year in 2006,
In a galaxy not so far, far awayâ€¦
â€¦ I settled down to watch a newly rented copy of Clerks II, preparing for a fun-filled night of aptly titled â€œdick and fartâ€ jokes. Before the film started, a slew of trailers rolled past, and I remember one of them sticking out above the rest. It had, quite possibly, the best premise I had ever heard – four friends travel cross- country to steal a work print of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. It looked absolutely awesome, and I eagerly awaited its release.
And I waited.
Over time, my enthusiasm for the movie faded. I began to believe the film had ultimately been placed on the Hollywood â€œbackburner.â€ I even entertained the idea that The Man himself, George Lucas, was somehow involved in its apparent demise. I went on with my life, finding other movies to keep me occupied, but every once in a while Iâ€™d catch myself thinking, â€œWhatever happened to that Star Wars road trip movie?â€
Then something magic happened. This past February, I was taking a lap through my local video store, as I regularly do, and I came across a newly released film, yet strangely familiar. That film was Fanboys. I now present you all with a review nearly 1 Â½ years in the making.
Cue the John Williamsesque music and flying space- paragraphs!
The film begins on Halloween in 1998 in Small town, Ohio (where the best nerds, from Drew Carey, to those kids from Small Soldiers, come from), as a group of friends get together to be openly geeky and have fun. One of the gang, Eric Bottler (Sam Huntington, Jungle 2 Jungle) has lost touch with the others, and as such has become a massive tool. The other main characters flesh themselves out pretty quickly and stereotypically: Windows (Jay Baruchel, Tropic Thunder), the skinny, oblivious computer guy and comic store clerk; Linus (Chris Marquette, Alpha Dog), the socially-adjusted dreamer; Hutch (Dan Fogler, Balls of Fury), intense uber-geek lovechild of Chris Farley and Chewbacca; and Zoe (Kristen Bell, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), the sarcastic girl-geek.
The central plot is set up almost as quickly, but with a twist I wasnâ€™t expecting: Linus has cancer and has been given five months to live. Even worse, Episode I isnâ€™t going to be released for another eight months, meaning that Linus probably wonâ€™t be around to see it. All the better reason to take a cross-country trip to the Graceland for Warsians (I hope this is the correct term. I hear Trekkie a lot more than Warsian) and try to score an advanced cut.
Along with a gratuitous amount of geek- debate (â€œAs soon as Luke found out Leia was his sister, it was HANDS OFF!â€) and both spoken and visual references to classic films (even a nod to THX 1138), audiences are treated to Trek- bashing in Riverside, Iowa, future birthplace of James T. Kirk. There is also a rather horrifying stripper scene in a biker bar, a chance encounter with ultimate fanboy, Ainâ€™t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles (played by Ethan Suplee), light speed police chases, antics in Las Vegas, and the final showdown at Skywalker Ranch.Â Intermingled throughout this film is good dose of the standard sex, drugs, and personal growth moments one finds in road-trip movies.
As with most films of this kind, Fanboys is filled with cameos, including Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, Ray Park, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes (a couple of long- hair wigs away from officially being Jay & Silent Bob), Danny McBride, and Seth Rogen playing not one, not two, but three roles (in a very Eddie Murphy-like manner). And of course, Mr. William Shatner, whose humor is best when it is self-deprecating.
The use of handheld cameras in some scenes seemed a little out of place, and the secondary plot involving Bottlerâ€™s dad (Christopher McDonald sporting a ridiculous spray-on tan and moustache) and his car dealerships fell by the wayside fairly early on, which I thought could be delved into a little deeper. The sound was excellent with sound effects straight outta Lucasfilm. The actors, as well as the writers and the director, Kyle Newman, genuinely seemed to care about this film, Star Wars, and geekdom in general. Under an â€œuninitiatedâ€ crew, this movie could have easily degraded into 1 Â½ hours of poking fun at fanboys and nerds.
Overall, Fanboys is a pretty good film. Is it perfect? No. Is it going to win any awards for its story and execution? No way. Are casual viewers going to get 90% of the jokes and references? I donâ€™t think so. But thatâ€™s not what this movie is about. Itâ€™s about giving some love to an iconic film and having a little fun along the way. For that, I give Fanboys 4 out of 5 stars.
And for the record, William Shatner can score anything.