starring Sam Huntington, Jay Baruchel, Dan Fogler, Chris Marquette, Kristen Bell, Seth Rogen
written by Ernest Cline, Adam F. Goldberg, Dan Pulick
directed by Kyle Newman
2007-2009, 90 mins., Rated PG-13
**1/2 (out of ****)
Ah, 1998 and '99 were great years, weren't they? Of course, can't remember most of it because of the whole being 8 and 9 years of age, but I do recall plenty of the anticipation and excitement surrounding a certain potential blockbuster flick called Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Being the youngin' I was, I obviously was oblivious to its greater impact to the masses - for me, it was about the cool action figures, lightsabers, and books (yes, I was one of those oddities who preferred the book version; in fact, I have a Toys 'R' Us "Ticket of Authentication" with my Episode I Official Movie Companion book - I shall never part with it). So, indeed, I collected every action figure I could get my hand on (which I hate to admit I probably don't own even half of 'em any longer, but I've since learned to keep 'em, if just for collector's sake). It wasn't until Episode II that I really got into Star Wars, and it wasn't until Episode III that I fully appreciated what a momentous, mega-event all of this was (pathetically, the midnight Episode III premiere will probably be one of the most awesomest days of my life - ever).
Why is all of this important, and why bring it up at all? Because I want to simply state that I am a Fanboy, I love the Prequel Star Wars trilogy (yep, go ahead and hate me, Lucas bashers; even Episode II is better than Star Trek - Generations), and this movie was made for me and blokes like me. And after about two or so years in 'will it get released or won't it?' hell (wasn't this shot in '07?), is all the hype and publicity surrounding the flick worth it? The short answer: sorta kinda.
Circa 1998. As kids, Eric (Huntington), Linus (Marquette), Windows (Baruchel), and Hutch (Fogler) were incomparable Star Wars fans. Actually, scratch that: they still are - with the exception of Eric. See, his father (the always hilarious Chris McDonald) is the owner of a major car company, and he wants to pass it down to him. Eric, trying that whole being a grown-up thing, weighs the decision. But once he finds out his long-time friend Linus has been diagnosed with an incurable disease and only has a few months left, he puts everything on hold to bring into fruition a lifelong plan - break into Skywalker Ranch and get a rough cut of the newest Star Wars movie! (in this case, Episode I) Thus, the ragtag team of SW geeks embark on a road trip to piss off Trekkies/Trekkers, defend Han Solo's honor, meet up with an internet chat "buddy", obtain the blue-prints for Skywalker Ranch, and break in! Of course, some members learn some things about themselves during the course of the Hero's Journey, but whatevs...
Going in, you automatically know it's going to be a Star Wars-referential parody with elements of teen comedy added in for good measure. What I didn't expect (much to my now happiness because I enjoyed it so damn much) was a Trek VS. Wars battle, a forced and not remotely convincing romance subplot, and laughing the hardest at something not even SW related (which I'll get to later). Immediately, the film opens with the familiar Opening Scroll, and it's finale is hilarious and absolutely appropriate. There's cameos abound, as well as many Trek slurs as one can think of ("Spocksucker" is a new personal favorite - low, I know). Oh, and there's a pretty funny "lightspeed" moment which uses the R2 sound effect perfectly, and also emulates a certain event from ESB to one's intense laughter.
Simply put, if you don't find anything else about this movie funny, you'll at least have a chuckle with all the Star Wars and Star Trek jokes. It's the perfect opportunity to put to test your geekdom knowledge. As for me, I don't mean to sound boastful and all that stuff, but I, your humble blogger, nearly always wins Star Wars Trivia Pursuit. I just sorta fail at the whole classifying certain starships and stuff - it's a complicated business!
- Alright, you pulled my leg, I might as just say the biggest thing that made me laugh is actually quite stupid. At one point, our Rebel Alliance stop to use the bathroom, and out of nowhere comes the one and only Kevin Smith in all of his awesomeness; and from the bathroom erupts Jason Mewes, blastin' off in a yaber-fest. And then - and for some reason this is the thing that made me erupt my vocal cords the most - the donkey show dude from Clerks II shows up next to Mewes! Oh, yes, indeed, that three-part cameo made my day. It wasn't Carrie Fisher, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Bille Dee Williams, or Seth Rogen that made me crack up the most (though he did elicit his share of laughs), but the duo of Kevin, Jason, and the Donkey Show guy. OK, obviously not nearly as funny written down - so go see the flick!
Although that's not saying there's not plenty of good jokes. On the contrary, there's plenty and that's what makes this a worthwhile comedy to watch. It may not match up to the two-year long hype wagon (but really, what could? Except, maybe, Dark Knight), but it's damn good fun. In fact, some other geeks from my screening said there was a satirical Star Trek movie similar to Fanboys called Free Enterprise which evidently also cameos Bill Shatner - I gotta track that down and add it to my Que. Anyhow, there's a brilliant war between a group of Star Trek fans in Idaho - led by a nearly unrecognizable Seth Rogen as nerdy and unkempt as you'll ever see him - and our gang as they diss Trek, and the others insult Han Solo, which doesn't go well for Hutch, who loves him in a very strange, I-need-therapy-kind-of-way.
As our lead character, Sam Huntington went from "Er, strange facial structure" to "Hey, that's that dude from Not Another Teen Movie!" to "thank God there's not a 'I can't believe no one wants to take a dump on you' joke". It wasn't until I IMDB'd Mr. Huntington that it finally clicked that he was also Jimmy Olsen in Bryan Singer's Superman Returns! Huh, small world. Anyway, he's decent, but lacks any sort of range.
In the cast, there's probably two other dude's you'll recognize almost immediately: Chris Marquette (whose face got a little thicker since last I saw him), who you'll remember from such classics like Freddy vs. Jason (which was pretty good) and The Girl Next Door (also surprisingly intelligent); his job here is to look mad, solemm, happy, and determined. Nothing huge, but still great to see him. The other bloke is making his rounds in nearly every teen comedy you can think of as either the nerd to end all nerds (even beating DJ Qualls!) or the so-called 'jock': Jay Baruchel, from Tropic Thunder and Knocked Up fame. The last dude from the gang is Dan Fogler, who did voices for Horton Hears a Who! and Kung Fu Panda; this is the first time I've ever seen him on film, and he's actually pretty funny. He's like a Jack Black but less annoying.
I also gotta confess right here, right now - I love Kristen Bell and I want to have her children. Er, I want her to have my children. Dang nabbit, I just wanna marry the girl. For even starring in a flick like this, for donning the world renown Princess Leia ROTJ slave outfit and honoring it, and being just so damn awesome and beautiful. It is an offense that she's not in the film a bit more, but as the forced romantic object who is "one of the guys", I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. Oh well, she was still awesome, as per usual. If anyone digs her work, I highly recommend Veronica Mars, which I would take any random scene and show it to a casting director; once they saw a VM clip, I firmly believe they'd hire her on the spot. To say she's a talented actress is an understatement. Alright, moving on --
There's obviously room for improvement in the script department. Despite its constant delays, I figured there'd be plenty of time for finely-tuned editing or giving weight to certain aspects of the script which show up out of nowhere (read: romantic plot!). I mean, is it too hard to at least have a scene or two establishing a secret crush? As it stands, Windows hasn't a clue to Zoe's affections - and neither did we. There's also a lack of fluency - events comes across as sketches attached together to form one full motion picture.
If Fanboys is making its rounds at your nearby theater, it's definitely worth the price of admission. If not, I hear rumblings that a DVD release will come to light in May - just in time to co-incide with my birthday (I'm sure it was all strategically planned that way). It will definitely make you want to watch the films again (I went home and popped in the worst of the series - Episode II - just 'cuz I wanted to watch Anakin, Padme, Obi-Wan, Mace, and Yoda kick some serious Geonosian ass!), or at the very least get you in the mood. For me, it's a total DVD purchase, but as per Reading Rainbow's mantra: don't take my word for it!