“Rule number one: In my van, it’s Rush. All Rush, all the time. No exceptions.”
The Scoop: 2008 PG-13, directed by Kyle Newman and starring Sam Huntington, Chris Marquette and Kristen Bell
Tagline: Never tell them the odds.
Summary Capsule: A less-than-epic tale of five friends on a road trip to see Star Wars: The Phantom Menace — illegally.
Justin’s Rating: It’s a trap!
Justin’s Review: It’s 1998 (what, again?), and four of the most ardent Star Wars fans in the world decide to help out their friend Linus, who is dying of cancer (but it’s Movie Cancer, so he looks and acts pretty normal for the whole thing), by taking a cross-country trek to break into Skywalker Ranch and see The Phantom Menace. So from the beginning, the entire movie is setting this gang up for a sad, twisted joke, where it goes unsaid (but largely hinted at) that Linus would’ve been much better off dying before seeing the movie that took the Star Wars franchise about ten steps backwards.
Anyway, it’s road trip time, and you know what that means! Wacky hijinks, a distinct lack of driving on interstate highways, misunderstandings at gay bars, celeb cameos, brushes with the law, a couple music montages and absolutely no seatbelts. Personally, I love road trip films, because it allows you to vicariously enjoy the presence of crazy personalities going to places that you, sitting in a movie theater or living room, decidedly are not. Predictable and shallow, sure, but sometimes you need a little light comedy.
I’d been following Fanboys for a few years now – it had a troubled time getting to release, with multiple reshoots, reediting and even a bit of a nerd flame war with the reshoot director (who, after being brought on the project, called the fans “losers”). The cancer subplot (read “the entire motivating factor for the road trip”) was stripped out, and then the original director was brought back on board at the last minute to edit it back in. It was finally released almost two years after it should’ve been and received lackluster reviews and a limited rollout. All in all, it kind of made me feel bad for this little project, so I felt determined to track it down and add it to my collection. I’m kind of like Jabba the Hutt in that regard. Also, I eat live frogs. I dunno, it’s just a thing.
Alas, a labor of love it may be, but Fanboys is decidedly middle-of-the-pack. It has all the ingredients it needs, and not half-bad actors either, but it’s as though the filmmakers never looked at the recipe for a good movie but just started swirling everything around, hoping that it’d come out okay. Yes, there are the expected Star Wars references and one-liners (the best being when Linus kisses Carrie Fisher and says, “I love you”, to which she replies, “I know”), and even authentic Star Wars sound effects and props… but at this point the whole Star Wars referential genre is so crowded that you absolutely have to do something great to stand out from the rest or else be doomed to mediocrity. It’s not as if Fanboys has a monopoly on Han Solo fanservice.
There is also a weird subplot involving a feud between our heroes and a group of Star Trek fans, as the movie makes the odd assumption that you can only be fan of one of these series, not both. Pardon me, but that’s just so… 1990. The geek of today is an enlightened one, able to sup from the cups of both Trek and Wars, as well as many other franchises, and there’s no call for such hostility. Plus, Fanboys doesn’t make any of this rivalry funny, which is the most important aspect. They obviously couldn’t get any permission to use Star Trek symbols, so they dressed up the Trekkers in outfits that are like Mexican Star Trek knockoffs, and then laden them with stereotypes so heavy that it’s just embarrassing for all involved.
Fanboys isn’t a total waste – as I said, it’s a breezy way to pass a couple hours if you aren’t saving a baby from a burning car or anything – but it squandered its only hope of being a cult hit long ago.
P.S. – I did find it ironic that this production got the “thumbs up” of approval from George Lucas, since it’s basically about urging fans to break into his private property and paw all over his priceless artifacts. Maybe his crack security force needs target practice?
- Jay and Silent Bob… sweet!
- Willow’s spellbook! Sweeter!
- Billy Dee as… Judge Reinhold? Guh?
- The passenger side door of the van has the word “fanboys” written on it in the ‘Star Wars’ Aurebesh alphabet and mirrored.
- Ray Park and Carrie Fisher
- The coffee shop where Windows meets Rouge Leader is called “Java the Hut.” This isn’t just a clever play on words involving the Star Wars character, it’s also the name of the coffee shop where ‘Kristen Bell”s character worked in Veronica Mars
Hutch: Nobody calls Han Solo a bitch!
Zoe: That better be your lucky R2 poking me.
Windows: Nope. My penis.
Hutch: What’s the Klingon for “I’m going to die a virgin”?
Windows: What’s your game plan?
Eric: We storm the ranch or we die trying.
Hutch: Rule number one: In my van, it’s Rush. All Rush, all the time. No exceptions. Rule number two: Nobody touch the red button. And I mean never touch the red button.
Title card/crawl: Ever wonder why these words are flying? Maybe aliens in another galaxy will one day read this and think WTF?
Zoe: Ew! What in god’s name is living on your chest? It looks like you fell on ALF.
Linus: I was wondering what did Sulu find in Captain Kirk’s lavatory.
Admiral Seasholtz: Sulu clearly found a standard issue Starfleet Z23 personal refuse device.
Linus: I believe it was the Captain’s log.
If You Liked This Movie, Try These:
- Robot Chicken’s Star Wars
- Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
- Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back