A funny thing happened to me while I watching this movie ‘Fanboys’. I’m doing stuff on the computer during a particular scene while this movie is playing on the TV, the scene where Windows (Jay Baruschel) is informing his boy Eric (Sam Huntington) that Harrison Ford is the best actor in the history of cinema. I look down at my laptop just at the point where Windows says ‘He’s never made a bad movie’ and while looking at my computer I mutter ‘I guess my man has never seen Six Days and Seven Nights’. If you’ve seen the movie then you know what I saw when I look back up at the television. That was pretty funny. Damn ‘Six Days and Seven Nights’… worldwide disdain.
The year is 1998 and in about two hundred days ‘Episode One: The Phantom Menace’ will be unleashed to the world. Three close friends in their mid twenties which include the aforementioned geeky Windows, live at home slacker Hutch (Dan Fogler) and the sick and dying Linus (Chris Marquette) simply cannot wait as you would be hard pressed to find a set of bigger Star Wars fans than these clowns. Sam, the fourth musketeer, isn’t nearly as close to his buddies as he used to be because he has chosen to grow up, toss his silly dream of being a comic book artist into the wind and has moved on with his life working for his father’s auto dealership. This in particular has pissed Linus off to no end because Sam was his ace, his number one, and the fact that he could kick him to the curb so unceremoniously just isn’t all that cool. Then Sam learns Linus is dying of cancer.
Now feeling all guilty, Sam wants to do something great for his friend before he leaves this earth which leads to him dusting of the crews adolescent plans to break into George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch and stealing a print of ‘The Phantom Menace’. Now I don’t even think George Lucas could break into Skywalker ranch to snatch a copy of his own damn movie, but were rolling with it. No sooner than you can say ROAD TRIP our boys are on the adventure of their lives beating up Trekkers, stripping at gay
clubs, smoking illegal contraband and meeting all kinds of famous people cameo style. Along the way they are joined by cool chick Zoe (Kristin Bell) who drops in to get the boys out a sticky situation and stays around to lend some progesterone and melodramatic love nonsense to the proceedings.
Will our crew find their ‘Deathstar’? Will the depressed Sam learn what happens to a dream deferred? Will he realize that it dries up like a raisin in the sun? Will our other heroes learn all kinds of other valuable life-altering lessons? Yeah, sure they will.
Directed by Kyle Newman ‘Fanboys’ is a funny movie, it’s just not as funny as I hoped it would be. I mean if anything is ripe for the pickings, satirically speaking, this is it. Man, it’s almost easy pickings. However there are a few things here in the narrative of this film which prevents our filmmakers from in investing fully and exploiting the satirical nature of the Fanboy. The first hurdle the movie has to leap over is the ‘sick dude’ angle. Obviously there is nothing remotely funny about having cancer and while the character of Linus having cancer isn’t treated lightly here, but when you think about it, the fact that Linus was sick served mostly the purpose of getting our heroes on the road, and also force feed us some sentimental junk that I’m thinking this movie could’ve done without. The fact that Linus is about to die, even though they only go to it when the plot requires it, does hang rather heavy over this movie.
Then we have the ‘cute girl’ angle. The minute we see the microscopic but completely adorable Kristin Bell we realize that she’s going to be a love object to somebody in our crew and this plot point too has to be serviced to the sacrifice of potential satire. Now Ms. Bell is way too cute to excise from the movie so why not just take her along from the get go as one of the fanboys? Her character is already a fanboy and there would be no awkward love junk to donate precious time to. Then the movie has to service The Cameo. Fanboys has a lot of really cool people popping in it such as Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Ray Park, William Shatner and an inspired set of cameos from Seth Rogen. Some of it was funny, some it wasn’t, but most were stuck in the movie simply because it was cool to have these people to look at for a few seconds.
Now strewn in between all that other stuff and the somewhat nonsensical physical comedy were some real comedic gems in this movie. Dan Fogler in particular seemed locked in on the ridiculousness of it all supplying the movie with its biggest laughs, but again it just seemed like this movie should’ve been a helluva a lot funnier.
A while back I saw a similar themed movie called ‘Gamers’ which wasn’t a tenth as accomplished a film as ‘Fanboys’ mainly because ‘Gamers’ was working with a hundredth of the budget. Thus that movie didn’t have cool people popping up in cool cameos, no official licensing and no hanging out at Skywalker Ranch, but it was a more effective film and a funnier film because that movie, flawed though it may have been, was all about the satire and not about forced emotion and silly pratfalls.
Don’t read me wrong because ‘Fanboys’ does have its inspired moments that at times are about as funny as anything out there, but the filmmakers seemed stuck in between making fun of their subjects while attempting to show respect to these same subjects and they just couldn’t strike a happy, consistent balance between the two throughout the movie. Worth watching but for me it was still a bit of a disappointment.