Dec 7, 2009

[Movies] Fanboys (2009)

Fanboys (2009)The Star Wars community remains to be one of the most vibrant ones amongst geek groups, especially with the strong support they get from the film's creators. This has led to a wide variety of fan-created films released over the years with varying levels of quality and humor. Oh yes, the fans can't get away from the humor.

Trying to understand fandoms of this nature is a bit tricky for people outside of geekier circles and it all just looks like grown men and women playing dress-up or unable to leave their childhood behind. There's a unique character to geeks who get into things of this nature and express their love and dedication for their fandoms to such a significant degree that's hard to capture anywhere else.

It's a concept often parodied in many movies, often a source of ridicule and mockery, but we geeks understand and have gotten pretty used to shaking it off. It's not very often that we actually get to see movies that take the contrary stand and try to celebrate those geekier traits that make things so much more interesting, so when we do, it's certainly a reason to check it out to see for ourselves what's what.

Cover of "Fanboys"Cover of Fanboys

Fanboys is the feature-length version of a 2003 New Zealand short film of the same name. The core narrative remains largely the same: a group of Star Wars geeks plots to break into Skywalker Ranch to steal a copy of the yet-to-be-released The Phantom Menace. This leads to a madcap road trip across the country to get there. Of course the US developers decided to take a few new twists and turns with it, but that's pretty much the story.

The added fluff backstory includes plot points like how Eric Bottler (Sam Huntington) is now more serious about life and is working hard in his father's car dealership business while his other geek friends of old are still as "childish" as ever. The only reason Eric decides to accompany Linus (Chris Marquette), Hutch (Dan Fogler) and Windows (Jay Baruchel) on this trip is because they eventually reveal that Linus has cancer and has only 4 months to live. The Phantom Menace was scheduled to come out in six. Hence the driving motivation for the entire movie.

I never got to see the original short film, but I have to admit this movie made me tempted to do so. I do this not because I absolutely loved the movie but more because I'd like to see what the original concept was, if only because this version felt a little weighed down by the need for a "loftier" plot and the introduction of a fair number of cameos.

The movie is full of fun moments that fans of the Star Wars movies will inevitably pick up on and enjoy. However when you put them all together, the result is not necessarily a coherent whole. Instead you just get a clip reel of sorts filled with humorous moments but that don't fit all too well together in the end. It doesn't make the movie bad overall - it just limits just how good it can be.

Kudos to many great references, an interesting recreation of the Skywalker Ranch and even a cameo by William Shatner. Yes, I know he's from Star Trek, but he managed to get in this movie as opposed to this year's Star Trek reboot. What kind of a message that sends to the world is beyond me, haha.

So if you're a Star Wars fan, you should get a few laughs out of this movie and may even relate to the passions of these characters in pursuit of the rough cut of Episode I. If you're not a Star Wars fan, this movie may seem very strange, weird and not necessarily very funny if you miss all the references and don't catch all the jokes.

Given this, Fanboys gets a decent 3 THX 1138 security guards out of a possible 5.

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