Life as a ‘Star Wars’ geek is rough. I know, I’ve lived it. “Fanboys”, the 2008 geek opus had a long road to tow to get a release. Plagued with a number of delays, re-shoots and other unexplained issues, it seemed for awhile there that Obi-Wan would be their only hope. Thankfully, the force was strong with this one as it finally sees a DVD release on May 19th.
I’ll be perfectly honest here; “Fanboys” isn’t going to be for everyone. It follows a fairly standard road trip comedy formula. It IS a decent movie to sit through, but unless you’ve lived the life of the obsessive “Star Wars” nerd you may have a hard time getting into the movie. Standing on its own, stripped of the nerd jokes, the movie is still a passable comedy. It looses some of its luster though and becomes run of the mill. The “Star Wars”-centric jokes are what make this one stand out on its own which is going to be off putting to those that are not fans or even unfamiliar.
Four nerdy friends decide to embark on a dream that has festered in their minds since the fifth grade; road trip across the country to Skywalker Ranch and steal the rough cut of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. They’re too eager to wait. Setting off, they get into many contrived escapades including a few Trekkies, insane pimps and all sorts of craziness.
As I said, there is nothing new here for the comedy road-trip genre, but that’s okay. It’s safe to admit that you’re really here for the “Star Wars” jokes. While the main plot is not going to wow you, the gags will. Our four nerds are carried off quite well. Dan Fogler’s Hutch is uncanny; I’ve now a guy or two that was just like him. All the way down to the tape case filled with nothing but Rush. Throwing in Jay Baruchel and Sam Huntington ads some more nerd cred to the cast, both being familiar from previous nerd roles. All carry off the anti-social and obsessed side of the characters to a T. As I’ve said, I’ve seen these people before; go to any “Star Wars Celebration” convention, you can see them too!
I’ve got to admit, the first two acts of “Fanboys” left me feeling pretty overwhelmed. The movie suffers from a slow start and flat jokes. It’s not until late into the second act that things start to pick up and thankfully they pick up enough to make the wait worth it. With a ton of cameos thrown in to spice things up, little things like the many faces of Seth Rogen and a ginger wigged Ethan Suplee acting as AintitCoolNews’s Harry Knowles are worth a laugh. There’s some good writing in these last acts weaving in many facets of nerdom that are nice and subtle if you’re hip to the lingo. But once again, if you’re not part of the ‘scene’, you may find yourself a bit bored and left behind.
I enjoyed myself quite a bit by the end of “Fanboys”, even despite the fact that they are obsessing over a movie that came out in 1999 and is loathed by many. This last bit of irony helps make the absurdity a little more absurd and is even addressed before the credits role. It’s worth a watch if you’re into “Star Wars”, probably worth a watch if you’re into nerdery as well.
If nothing else, this movie serves to prove one thing for sure: Kristin Bell in a Slave Leia costume? Yah, the force is strong in her too.