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Fanboys Completes Its Journey to the Dark Side of Theaters
Fanboys director Kyle Newman has had a more twisted and bumpy journey to get his work into theaters than the main characters’ trek across country in the film itself. This film which has been swirling around in various raw forms over the past couple of years finally got a release a few weeks ago. It’s probably destined for a more cult life on DVD, though. It’s a shame, because it’s an entertaining love letter to geekdom in all its forms. It’s the payoff for all the false starts and random release date promises has been sneaking onto a handful of movie screens with almost no advertising or promotion.
Fanboys details a 1998 trip by a group of old high school pals to drive cross-country, break into George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch, and steal an early copy of Star Wars Episode One before its release. The motivation for this insane plan is the fact that one of them has terminal cancer and is unlikely to make it to the actual release of the film the following May.
There is nothing revolutionary about Fanboys. It’s a pretty standard “road trip” movie. Of course, they manage to get tangled up in a series of ridiculous situations and “hilarity” ensues. While the film doesn’t exactly pack a punch when it comes to belly laughs, it does manage to deliver a fairly entertaining and enjoyable ride in its final act that culminates with the gang breaking into Skywalker Ranch.
Tipping the scales for me to give it a real recommendation is that it’s cameo-heavy work that’s obviously done with a genuine love of the fanboy lifestyle. If you’ve been following the development of the movie, you probably have some idea where these cameos came from and most all end up being billed in the credits, but I won’t spoil much beyond that. Seth Rogan actually plays multiple roles with some of his usual gangs from his other movies and we get a pretty satisfying list of other familiar faces in Star Wars and Star Trek movie and fandom culture, all played in ironic and “in the joke” with the filmmakers.
Many hands have had their fingers in Fanboys over the past couple of years. Multiple cuts of the film were shown, there were tons of reshoots and added scenes, including some celebrity cameos. Kevin Spacey takes producer credit being one of the main backers of the film to complete and release it.
I think one of the most interesting intangible aspects of the movie itself is that the characters here are really representative of a lot of Star Wars geeks 10 years ago before so many of us started to to turn rather bitterly against George Lucas and the journey he made. to the dark side over the past decade since The Phantom Menace was released. In that sense, there’s kind of a bittersweet feeling about how fun it was back then, remembering how intense our anticipation was for this cinematic event. In a way, it’s almost sad to see these characters commit so deeply to their love of Star Wars before the fan community began to tear apart between the releases of the prequel trilogy films.
Beyond that, it’s still just a movie with a lot of jokes that apply to lovable loser fanboys. There’s simply never been a limit to the fun you can get from a Star Wars geek’s inability to get laid or his penchant for discussing serious social issues like the fact that Luke and Leia shared two on-screen kisses before it was revealed that they were actually siblings. It’s also full of jokes and references that a true geek will appreciate like a pickup truck whose interior “decorative” lighting is turned on by hammering the inside of the roof like Han Solo does to restart the Millennium Falcon’s engine in the Holy Trilogy and crew call “Chewie” instead of “Shotgun” to call dibs in the front passenger seat for the ride
Ultimately, I can’t say that Fanboys is a movie worth putting your life on the line to cross the country and see at all costs, but it made me smile and laugh and feel some pride in my geek. I think any Star Wars fan, whether still loyal to Lucas or deceased due to the prequels, would do well to seek out Fanboys and drop $9.50 to remember the good times.
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