Every now and then, the powers-that-be will make a movie that is catered specifically to a certain nerd demographic. I'm not talking about the obvious sci-fi or superhero film of the moment. Those are designed to have a broad appeal to make up for their enormous budgets. I'm talking about those niche films where they are aiming specifically for us fanboys. So what better title to give one such film than to aptly name if "Fanboys".
The year is 1998 and "Star Wars" fans everywhere are counting down the days until the epic release of "Episode I: The Phantom Menace". Probably none more so than four best friends Eric (Sam Huntington), Linus (Chris Marquette), Hutch (Dan Fogler) and Windows (Jay Baruchel). The anticipation is eating at them so much that they plan a cross country odyssey to infiltrate the famous Skywalker ranch and boost a pre-release print of the film. Naturally, they experience various far-fetched and outrageous adventures on the way.
I don't think I have ever geeked out over a movie as much as I did over this one. The main reason was that I could see myself in so much of what these guys were doing. At least in spirit. The biggest thing was how they related so much of their real life into some type of "Star Wars" quote. And not the well known obvious quotes either like "May the force be with you". They were using obscure references that only true Star Wars fans would pick up on.
As much as a fanboy I am, I never have considered myself to be extreme. Certainly not so much that there had to beef with Trekkies. That was an ongoing thing in "Fanboys". It's like Star Trek fans and Star Wars fans could not co-exist. It made for some hilarious moments though. Like the guys making a special detour thru Riverside, IA just to mess with Trek fans that had congregated there for a mini-convention (Riverside is the fictional home of Captain Kirk, for those who didn't know). It also allowed for one of many amusing characters from Seth Rogan.
All of the other cameos made this film even better. It was very slick how they found ways to incorporate actual "Star Wars" icons into the movie. Instead of being their regular selves that would have had a normal fanboy gushing (I mean who DOESN'T want to meet Lando?!), they were regular people, but still with a Star Wars nuance to them. Especially the scene that Carrie Fisher has where she utters one of her most famous lines ever.
It was more than just those appearances that helped this flick. It was also how they had other known celebrities who are fanboys themselves making cameos. Such as Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes subtly giving a nod to an infamous "Clerks II" scene. Then "Fanboys" puts the icing on the cake when Mr. Headgeek himself, Harry Knowles of one of my favorite websites, Ain't It Cool News, showed up. Okay...it was actually Ethan Suplee playing him, but the fact that a known website geek had an actor comically portraying him continued to add to the nerd factor.
This was more than just your typical road trip movie. There was somewhat of a message. Hutch put it best when he said you have to find your own Death Star. You have to find that one amazing deed that you accomplished that you can live on forever. Not to say you should dwell on the past, but once you have scored that Death Star, any other obstacle that comes your way pales in comparsion. Yes...I know every road movie has that one flimsy moral they work in there somehow; however, this one was more impressive because they used a "Star Wars" analogy to make it ring true.
Naturally, the most ironic thing about the entire movie is we all know how bad "The Phantom Menace" sucked. Not as an overall movie, but definitely in terms of a "Star Wars" film. With the exception of the epic Darth Maul scene, it fell exponentially short of expectations after waiting so long for a new "Star Wars" entry. So in essence, as you are watching this film and already having that knowledge, it made everything they had to go thru that much more funnier.
It would be a huge understatement to say that I could feel where these friends were coming from. I mean you are looking at a guy who took the day off work to wait in line for the midnight showing of "The Phantom Menace" and STILL doesn't regret it. Those of us that grew up on "Star Wars" seemed to be wired a bit differently like that. "Fanboys" taps into that and it connects with our inner geeks with every innate nuance and numerous reference. It is for that reason that this particular grade may be slightly jaded, but VERY much well-deserved nonetheless.
My rating: A