There has been much made in nerd circles about Kyle Newman’s film Fanboys, a goofy comedy about a gang of dorks – Linus (Christopher Marquette), Eric (Sam Huntington), Windows (Jay Baruchel) and Hutch (Dan Fogler) and their above-it-all girl-pal Zoe (Kristen Bell) – who make a road trip to Skywalker Ranch to try and break into George Lucas’ compound and watch an early cut of Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace before anyone else sees it. It’s been in limbo since it was first finished in 2006, and the Weinstein Company held it up, thinking it wanted to re-edit the film to get rid of a portion of the plot that is really the impetus of the entire story – i.e. one of the four dorks (Linus) is dying of cancer and thus the nerds who would normally just sit around being nerds (as nerds do) actually get up the gumption to take on this impossible mission. The real-life fanboys who cheered this film at nerd parties like Comic-Con and, natch, the Star Wars Celebration got their collective tighty-whiteys in a bunch and started angry protests against the Weinsteins to try and strong-arm them into releasing the movie intact. There was talk of releasing two different versions of the movie, but the one that I screened definitely involved tumors. So after years of hullaballoo, what’s the actual verdict on the film?
It’s a mixed bag.
As you might surmise about a guy who makes a living writing about movies on the internet, I’m certainly the kind of nerd/dork/geek/fanboy that can readily identify with these characters. I caught most of their references to Star Wars minutiae and I laughed at some of them. Yet, I retain a modicum of social awareness, and the experience of watching this film sometimes felt like taking that awkward moment where you have to bridge the gap between your confused friends and that guy who can’t stop wheeze-laughing at the killer joke he just made involving the punchbowl and Dengar and stretching it out to last an hour and a half.
Don’t get me wrong. Some of it’s really funny. Seth Rogen in a dual role as both the uber-Trekker who picks a fight with Hutch by calling Han Solo a bitch and as an angry nerd-pimp out to get Hutch and Windows after they accidentally get involved with hookers in Vegas. It just happens to be paced like one of those slipshod, haphazard comedies you see all the time that never really pack the oomph they want to deliver. Whether or not that’s a product of Weinstein’s meddling or the greenness of director Newman is up for debate.
That said, it doesn’t much matter, as Fanboys is destined to be a stoner classic on DVD for years to come, and it’s for who it’s for, if you catch yon drift. It’s hard to get all that bothered when a movie like this doesn’t fire on all cylinders – so long as it makes its way into hyperspace and the hands of those who will cherish it like manna from heaven. It’s just a bunch of goofy fun. If it inspires even one basement-dwelling action-figure collector to pick themselves up and join the real world, it’ll be worth the long, arduous 12-parsec sojourn to the silver screen. Fly, Fanboys, fly.