Monday, February 9, 2009

Movie Review: Fanboys! (Excuse me while I dweeb out for a moment.)

If there are less than 150 people with you in line and even one of your friends is out of costume, this sort of stuff just looks silly. We saw it opening night and expected the standard Star Wars line, but there were just 15 other people in the theater.

Yes, I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Fanboys since I read about the start of production on Ain't It Cool way back in 2005. And then even after its completion, 2 more years went by with rumors of re-edits, re-shoots, re-writes, we never thought it would be released. Fanboys seemed to be a flawless concept to me - it's 1998 and 4 friends (one with terminal cancer) road trip from Ohio to Skywalker Ranch with the mission of stealing a copy of the yet to be released Star Wars Episode I so their dying friend can lay his eyes upon it before he checks out. Add to that a few altercations with Trekkies, excuse me, I mean Trekkers, an inexplicably hot fangirl (Kristen Bell) who actually chooses to hang with them with a quick peyote trip somewhere in the Iowa dessert and more Star Wars references than you can possibly imagine (oooh, there's one right there) - how can this combination go badly?


It doesn't. It's sweet, quite funny, a little raunchy and the cast of relative unknowns and a few ringers make it feel similar to the original Star Wars - also a bit of a road trip movie. Fanboys moves quickly, as a road movie should and while there are a few contrived devices to keep it going, its heart makes up for the ridiculousness of the plot, that and the fact that it is pretty damn funny. And with the blessing of Lucas himself, the movie was able to utilize genuine sound effects, authentic props and access to the Ranch itself. After the first 10 minutes of The Phantom Menace, something died inside all of us true fans - but the lead in to that movie was a very exciting time. With the lead up releases of Episodes 4, 5 and 6 special edition style filled with more re-edits and cartoony sfx than we knew what to do with, the end result of Episode I was basically foretold to us. It wasn't going to be good and we were going to have to deal with it. But, we really didn't comprehend it until minute 11.

If I had yelled out "3263827!" everyone in the theater would have known what I was talking about. Gave me a kind of a warm feeling, you know? (left to right: Dan Fogler, Jay Baruchel [pre-Tropic Thunder], Chris Marquette, Sam Huntington and Kristen Bell)

What's great about Fanboys is that they leave that part out since no one needs to tell us fans how it went down. Fanboys instead focuses on the soul of what Star Wars fandom is. It's about friendship and a shared experience that has shaped quite a few generations and continues to do so even though it's unrecognizable to the purists that are left. Being a Star Wars fan is about slipping in lines from the movie in real life situations and about arguing the validity of the coolness of Boba Fett. Will you enjoy this movie if you don't know how many parsecs it takes the Millenium Falcon to complete the Kessel run*? Honestly, I don't know. Unfortunately, this movie is only playing in a handful of cities, which is sad because it is heads above any of the lighter fair out there right now. But, put it on your Netflix queue for later, it's a fun way to spend 90min - for you or your dorky loved ones.

90 min
Dan Fogler, Jay Baruchel, Chris Marquette, Sam Huntington and Kristen Bell
Cameos & Such: Seth Rogan, Will Forte, Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, Kevin Smith, Ray Parks, Shatner, and Danny McBride
Dir: Kyle Newman
Screenplay: Ernest Cline & Adam F. Goldberg (from Philly, yo!)
Prod: 9 folks including: The Weinstein bros & Kevin Spacey

*12, duh.