Fanboys Directed by: Kyle Newman Cast: Sam Huntington, Jay Baruchel, Dan Fogler, Chris Marquette, Kristen Bell Running Time: 1 hr, 30 minutes Rating: PG-13
Plot: Four former best friends (one has since disbanded into the “real world”) re-unite for a road trip to seek out the Skywalker Ranch. Their mission: To break into George Lucas’ nerd-kingdom and steal a copy of the elusive Star Wars: Episode I. Don’t let the silly premise fool you, this film is more about the bond between young men (and women) than comic-book capers.
Who’s It For?: Anyone born amidst the years of Star Wars’ release who’s ever had even a waning interest in cinema’s most stories saga. If you’ve ever found yourself attempting to channel “the force” in order to evade bullies, teachers, or creditors, this may be the movie for you.
Expectations: This is an era of the quirky-off-beat comedy aimed at viewers with “edge.” Fanboys wasn’t made to woo the Academy, rather to reinvigorate Hollywood’s recent message that uncool is the new cool.
Sam Huntington as Eric: Here’s a kid who could have easily been perpetually trapped in the teen-comedy genre. He’s likable enough without the leading man presence, or self-assuredness necessary to sell a picture on his own. Thanks to this movie’s ensemble approach, Huntington shines in not only his ability to shake the “quirky teen” stereotype, but provide a refreshing take on the “quirky twenty-something” angle that has yet to be explored entirely. In this kind of role, you simply need to be believable for your performance to transcend… anything. Huntington is Eric, and is successful in bringing this character to life. Score: 8
Jay Baruchel as Windows: It pains me to say I had grown tired of the skinny-gawky-eyed stereotype Baruchel has playing to mind-numbing perfection for nearly a decade. The kid looks, acts, and breathes this role… rather than relishes in it. In Fanboys he finally hunkers down and finds an actual person buried beneath the ironic eyeglasses, and thrift-store flare we’ve seen him sling at us before. Though the Windows character takes nearly half a film to become an actual person, it’s worth the wait. Score: 8
Dan Fogler as Hutch: You’re supposed to love Hutch. He’s such an offbeat representation of prolonged adolescence that you’re just supposed to lay down and take it from his “over the top antics,” and applaud such a rampant delivery of smart-witted/physical comedy, and just proclaim, “We’ve finally found the next Jack Black!” Wrong. Fogler’s abilities are obvious, but he hardly wields the “power” effectively enough to make Hutch anything but a recycled “nut” of a character whose one-liners provide about as much staying power as Coke II. [Oh yeah, and he’s a rabid Rush fan. All you can listen to in his van is Rush. Isn’t that hilarious?] Score: 5
Chris Marquette as Linus: Marquette’s the ailed one. He has an unspoken fatal illness that propels his three best friends into going through with this road trip in the first place. There’s little required on the young actor until the film’s past its peak. As a result, his character is perhaps the most forgettable of the lot. However, he’s able to garner more emotion than any of them in his limited opportunity to jerk some tears. You won’t expect it, but Marquette reveals his superior acting chops during a campfire scene you won’t see coming. Score: 9
Kristen Bell as Zoe: Why it is all super-attractive female leads want to “slum it down,” and play nerdy-comic-store-employees? Okay, maybe I’m overstating it, but is this the hot females’ version of playing a mentally challenged shrimp boat captain? Whatever the case, Bell is as good as can be expected as Zoe (wow, a quirky name), and in a film such as this, it’s best to just play to type as accurately as possible. It’s guaranteed a slew of real-life “fanboys” have added her into their collective “desire tank.” I have to admit, she may look better as a dweeb than as a Hollywood bombshell. Score: 7
Talking: All the uber-hip Star Wars-referencing banter you could expect from four 25-year-old quasi-virgins whose lives have revolved around a single trilogy for as long as they can remember. The only very interesting dialect is spewed between the “Trekkies” and our four heroes. Everyone knows that Star Trek fans and Star Wards fans hate each other, right? Either way, the best line involves an out-of-the-shadows William Shatner ironically helping Linus and Eric, insisting Lucas "owes" him one. Priceless. Score: 7
Sights No earth-shattering (or death-star-shattering) special effects to speak of, but the frivolous flare with which they depict Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch is hilarious adept. Eric’s car-salesman father [played by Christopher McDonald with all his patented character-acting zeal] is a very necessary scent of distracting comic relief. His cowboy hat serves as a necessary visual tool that reminds us all how to make accurate timepieces: Be as obvious as possible as to which era you’re talking about. Score: 6
Sounds: You’re standard timepiece soundtrack, boosting some of 1998’s biggest musical names. If you’re a music geek like I am, you’d have to insist there were no such audio-overachievers, but Kyle Newman (Director) did his best to find a few needles in an otherwise horrid haystack. Liz Phair, The Dandy Warhols, and Rush compliment the obvious John Williams masterpiece to which Star Wars itself spread its wings. Score: 7
Best Scene: When Eric and Linus seek out the floor plans from a “source” deep inside a Las Vegas “convention” they find Captain Kirk himself, and needless to say – utter hilarity ensues.
Ending: Leave it to a film based around the collective love for intergalactic happy endings to find a way to find the silver lining in death. The last line of the movie, aptly given to Eric, calls to mind the inevitability we were all well aware of long before this movie’s main characters: Here’s a hint – it regards the possibility that The Phantom Menace may not live up to its larger than life expectations.
Questions: How did they get Carrie Fisher, and Billy Dee Williams, but not Mark Hamill? Harrison Ford was out of the question, but if anyone would have been expected to show his face from that cast, it would have had to have been Luke Skywalker himself.
Rewatchability: Not necessary. They jokes aren’t clever enough to warrant a repeat viewing, and that’s the real shame: The cast does so well it’s unfortunate the script didn’t challenge their talents more. Hutch gets on your nerves more than provides timely comic relief. The direction is fine, but the film ultimately goes nowhere.
This is a movie about good and evil: the rebel alliance vs. the dark side. An age-old story best told by George Lucas a generation ago, and now presented in a modernized, more relatable story many of us are all-too-familiar with due to our own infatuation with Star Wars. Fanboys is an entertaining film that finds its heart too late in the going. The characters are largely well written and acted. The story is interesting enough to follow, and the subplots (namely a legion of Star Trek fanatics headed by an unrecognizable Seth Rogen) are funny enough to keep your will to pay attention going. The trouble is, it’s more of a visual picture about an era than a binding-friendship drama about what’s important and what isn’t. 1998 is shoved down our throats so much (music, films references, Harrison Ford on a billboard in Six Days, and Seven Nights) it makes it difficult to appreciate the story on its own. You’ll get what I mean when you see for yourself. By all means, please do – it’s not a passable film. It’s just that the real stories buried underneath a lot of fluff that does less for continuity than it “forces” your focus away from what it’s really about
Final Score: 6/10