Today: April 17, 2024

Fanboys

An entertaining look at Star Wars culture with enough heart and references to keep you smiling throughout.

An entertaining look at Star Wars culture with enough heart and references to keep you smiling throughout.

Love it or hate it, Star Wars does and always will hold a very
important place in the cannon of cinema. It is no surprise that as
childhood fans of the franchise begin to find their way into Hollywood
they chose to comment on it endlessly. A glance at the work of Kevin Smith, who makes a cameo here, sees endless homage, mocking and general reverence. It is testament to George Lucas
space opera that it has become a pantheon of film. Fanboys is a love
letter to all those that worship at the altar of Jedi, and might just be
poking a little fun at them as well.

It’s 1998 and five high school friends are getting over excited about the release of the new Star Wars film, The Phantom Menace. Eric (Huntington)
has drifted apart from his comic book friends in order to work at his
father’s car dealership. When Eric finds out that his best friend Linus (Marquette) is dying of cancer he decides to reform the band, so to speak. Jumping in Hutch’s (Fogler) van, Linus, Eric, Hutch, Windows (Baruchel) and Zoe (Bell)
set off in search of Skywalker Ranch, George Lucas’ home and Holy Grail
to all who seek out the rough cut of the latest Star Wars film. Along
the way they will wage war on fans of Star Trek and rekindle their
childhood friendships.

The plot for Fanboys is an opportunity of capturing the essence of
what makes someone fall in love with a film. It could easily have become
the American equivalent of a Cinema Paradios (1988) in showing
how a film touches someone’s life so deeply that it takes over in a
genuinely romantic sense. Unfortunately there are only hints of this in
Fanboys and it plumps for the more Frat-boy humour of a Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Superbad)
film, it also shares many of the same cast members. However, it still
manages to be an enjoyable, if flawed comedy, with just the right
balance between Star Wars homage and geeky fun.

Director Newman, whose only previous credit is a straight to
DVD affair, fought hard to keep the cancer sub-plot in the film and it
is to his credit that he did. By creating an underlying sad tone to the
piece it makes the nostalgia of the group’s child love affair with Star
Wars that much more nostalgic. For the most part the film is a comedy
but every now and then, especially towards the end, the film dips into your heart and just gives a little nudge on the strings.

Of course much of the fun is spotting the Star Wars references. Be
them obvious sound effects, George Lucas saw an early cut of the film
and gave permission to use the infamous sounds from his films, to the
Star Wars opening and wipe editing techniques. There are of course
plenty of in jokes, but they never feel exclusive to the hardcore fans.
Anyone who has seen Star Wars will get most of the gags.

The cast are never really asked to do much more than be themselves,
or at least versions of similar characters they have played before.
Fogler continues his want-to-be alpha male role from films like Balls Of Fury and Good Luck Chuck but manages to evoke a certain Han Solo mentality. Marquette, endlessly funny in The Girl Next Door,
brings enough brooding anger to convince as fragile Linus. Huntington,
Superman Return’s Jimmy Olson, finds just enough pluck to be the Luke
Skywalker of the gang, even if that does mean occasionally whining too
much. Baruchel seems to fall into the role of C3PO and it is one he has
played in countless movies including the recent She’s Out Of My League,
but is always a welcome addition to any cast. However, it is Bell who
takes much of the plaudits. Always brilliant as Veronica Mars she has
not been used enough in films. Here she is still underused as a
supporting role, but brings a tough tom-boy mentality to the role and
more than fills in as the Princess Leia of the group. Of course asking
any audience to believe that the beautiful Bell could be a geek is as
easy as believing Greedo shot first.

While it does feel like a missed opportunity, Fanboys is still a fun
road movie with enough heart and laughs to maintain interest. The endless Star Wars gags will keep fans hooked while the subtle mockery of them will bring a smile to others. Now where is that light-sabre?

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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