In 1998, four childhood friends with a love for Star Wars make one final odyssey together before one of them dies of cancer. They will travel across the country, break into Skywalker Ranch and steal a copy of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace before it is released.
Fanboys is quite simply a love letter to Star Wars. The film takes place in 1998, six months before the release of The Phantom Menace. The main characters of the film are long time friends who have been huge fans of Star Wars since childhood. Eric (Sam Huntington) is the only one who tried to grow up and has been working at his father’s car lot for the last three years.
The other friends includes Windows (Jay Baruchel), Hutch (Dan Fogler) and Linus (Chris Marquette), representing the three basic types of fanboys. Windows is a nerd, complete with glasses and his laptop always on-hand to talk to his online girlfriend. Hutch is the comic book geek and comes across as a low rent Jack Black. Hutch could easily be Barry’s (High Fidelity) slightly retarded younger brother. Finally, Linus is the only one of the three who is slightly normal yet obsessed with everything geek.
The movie then places these four characters in situations allowing them to play off their stereotypes. The plot is simple: Linus has cancer with three months left to live, meaning he will never get to see the new Star Wars movie. Hutch and Windows seek out Eric, who has been out of touch since he began working for his father, to let him know about Linus. The two have had a falling out since Linus sees Eric as a person who abandoned his friends.
It doesn’t take Eric long to make the decision to help his friends with their ultimate mission – break into Skywalker Ranch and see the film before Linus dies.
The movie is a sweet love story, both to Star Wars and the relationship between childhood friends. It takes their love for something as simple as a movie to help them bond together once more and they never look ridiculous despite their over-the-top fandom. In that respect, the movie succeeds on a base, emotional level.
However, how the movie gets there seems contrived. I never believed for a minute the events were nothing more than something the writer made up, leading from one plot point to the next. Their first plan of action is to travel to Texas to find Window’s online girlfriend who promises them floor plans to Skywalker Ranch. While everyone else is sleeping, Hutch instead drives them to Riverside, Iowa, the “future birthplace of Captain Kirk” to fuck with Trekkies.
The first memorable cameo of the movie (if you ignore Christopher McDonald’s role as Eric’s dad) is Seth Rogan as Admiral Seashottz, the leader of a group of Trekkers (Trekee is a derogatory term). There is no reason for this diversion except to make it clear Star Wars and Star Trek fans apparently hate each other and to set up another set piece later in the film.
The entire movie feels like this, moving the cast from one set piece to another in a road trip that never feels natural. They meet a man called The Chief (Danny Trejo), Ain’t it Cool News’ Harry Knowles (Ethan Suplee), a judge named Reinhold (Billy Dee Williams), a pair of hookers (one of which is Jaime King), a kind doctor (Carrie Fisher), as well as William Shatner as himself. They also meet up with Seth Rogan in his second role in the film portraying a pimp named Roach as well as Kevin Smith appearing to raise money by making Jason Mewes perform unscrupulous acts.
That is it, numerous cameos and big set pieces leading the group, which has grown by one when Zoe (Kristen Bell) has to come to their rescue when they are arrested. Zoe adds a much needed piece to the puzzle, giving us another subplot to follow, while remaining grounded amongst the angst of the male characters. She is also adorable as the very cute girl who is as much a geek as any of the guys.
When they finally reach Skywalker Ranch, the movie ends predictably, but has one last great scene with Danny McBride in an uncredited cameo as the head of security. It is the only point in the movie where the filmmakers take a jab at the characters’ fandom by quizzing them, to determine if they are really fanboys or not. Once again, Zoe is the highlight of this scene.
By the end of the film, I felt I had seen this all before. It was nice to hear the Star Wars references and the movie left a good taste in my mouth. However, nothing structurally was sound and it seemed like I was watching a series of set pieces and sketches leading to the conclusion. It is a fun movie with a cookie cutter script.
There is a really fun commentary track with director Kyle Newman, writers Ernie Cline and Adam F. Goldberg, and actors Dan Fogler, Kristen Bell and Sam Huntington. The group enjoys each other’s company and shares jokes and laughs throughout the entire track. They give lots of information about the making of the movie and it is never once boring.
There are six deleted scenes. The highlights include a conversation about whether Windows would rather have sex with a wookie or an ewok and the Kevin Smith/Jason Mewes scene extended. There is also an interesting scene with William Katt as head of security instead of Danny McBride. McBride ruled in the movie.
Also included are some short features including a promotional piece, a look at the homages paid to Star Wars, the dichotomy between the main characters, a look at the choreography and seven webisodes shot while making the movie. None of them provide any substantial information but the webisodes are fun to watch.