Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Kyle Newman's Fanboys was supposed to hit theaters in August of 2007. Thanks to development problems, it managed to squeak into a few theaters in February of 2009 and finally arrive on DVD this past Friday. Since a lot of you have never heard about this movie, I'll give a brief plot synopsis: Set in 1998, the film follows five friends as they travel across the country with one goal in mind - to break into Skywalker Ranch and watch an early print of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Director: Kyle Newman
Starring: Sam Huntington, Kristen Bell, Jay Baruchel, Dan Fogler, Chris Marquette

If you're a Star Wars fan, you will definitely find something to appreciate in this movie. The film is a labor of love created by a director who has clearly been heavily influenced by Star Wars and the ensuing cultural phenomenon it inspired. The direction is amateurish, but still has enough skill to make this look like an actual film and not something that you or I would throw together in our backyards. There isn't much going on visually, and the music is practically nonexistant. But with all that said, I had a great time watching this and it managed to keep me laughing all the way through.

The concept is original, but the movie eventually devolves into slipping Star Wars references into standard road trip movie situations. Is this a problem for me? Not at all. Fanboys knows what it wants to be and doesn't strive for anything more, aiming simply to please fans with the "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" moments and give us a fun ride toward the crew's final destination. Like every good road film, though, it's all about the journey - and this one was pretty awesome. Conflicts with Star Trek nerds and crazy cameos from the "who's who" of the geek world push this otherwise-average movie up into a very enjoyable place. The attention to detail made specifically for the Star Wars fan, down to Sphinx-like quizzes and a really awesomely painted van, is spot on and felt genuine. It's rare to find a genuine film these days, but this is one of the few.

The cast is fantastic, playing each scene so well that it truly feels as if these guys (and girl) have been friends for years. That's a testament to the quality of both the dialogue and their ability to read it convincingly. Kristen Bell is quickly becoming a Ben's Movie Reviews favorite - after seeing her in this and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I've decided to throw Veronica Mars into my queue list (it'll take forever for me to finally receive it and watch the whole thing, but it'll happen eventually). Dan Fogler, who I haven't seen on screen before, did great work as the funny fat guy generally reserved for the likes of Jonah Hill and Jack Black. He brought a wild craziness to the role that was really fun to watch. Jay Baruchel (the upcoming Sorcerer's Apprentice with Nic Cage) was great as the nerd who went by the name Windows, and his subplot about his internet relationship reminded me a lot of the rather-funny-but-little-seen Sex Drive, even though Fanboys was filmed prior to that movie. The main two guys, Sam Huntington and Chris Marquette, did adequate work but all of the side characters interested me more than either one of them did.

The movie was cut and re-cut multiple times by the studios (way to go, Weinstein Company - another great decision on your part), and they even brought another director in to do some reshoots. They cut a major story aspect out of the movie entirely, giving the characters piss-poor motivation and a wildly different feel to the movie overall before they finally rescinded and gave Kyle Newman his movie back so he could cut it back to the way he originally intended. Oh yeah - and they only gave him 36 hours to re-cut it. What a bunch of tools. Needless to say, the movie suffers a bit from these behind the scenes problems and can't completely shed the imminent presence of the looming Weinsteins over the director's shoulder, trying to craft a marketable hit out of something that was made only for the fans in the first place.

For fear of spoiling this for the few of you who want to check it out, I'm going to stop this review short. But I will say that there are some interesting parallels story-wise that can be made between this and the original Star Wars: A New Hope. Cool stuff. And the "find your Death Star" speech stuck me as particularly poignant and is something I'm sure I'll be quoting (at least to myself) for a long time to come. Suffice it to say that you'll definitely get a laugh out of this and I'd say it's definitely worth the price of a rental. Until next time...


BranzAM said...

K. Bell can find MY Death Stars...

(Note: They're my balls.)

Ben Pearson said...

Hey! Get back to work mopping the Sentinel floors, you bum!

Head Hero said...

I loved every cameo in this movie. I wonder how this will compare to '77, another movie about Star Wars.

Veronica Mars is a great show (the first two seasons at least). Rumblings of a Veronica Mars movie has been around the 'Net for ages though.

Ben Pearson said...

From what I can tell, '77 looks a little more serious. Not to say that it won't be good - but just a completely different type of film.

And yeah man - those cameos were fantastic all the way around.