Starring: Sam Huntington, Jay Baruchel, Kristen Bell
Directed by: Kyle Newman
Hollywood is a weird place. Fanboys had an interesting concept and was backed by a team of notable producers (Kevin Spacey was involved in the project) and was even given approval from George Lucas. The film ran into problems though and was edited, re-edited, reshot, and modified several times during the course of production. Kyle Newman’s final edition of the project is a good movie but feels very uncoordinated. It’s funny but not in the places it should be. It’s cheesy fun that’s better found surfing cable channels at two in the morning.
The film is set back in 1998. The premise is that Eric Bottler (Sam Huntington) meets up with his old gang from high school at a costume party after some years apart. Although his old friends don’t exactly welcome him back with open arms, they don’t outright reject him either. Even though there’s a large division between them (Eric has made something from himself while the others are still struggling after graduation), their love for the Star Wars movies unites them. They keep bringing up the idea of going to Skywatcher Ranch, breaking in, and stealing a copy of the yet-to-be released Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Upon hearing that one of his friends, Linus (Chris Marquette) has cancer and only has a few months to live, the group decides that they need to go through with their insane plan so that Linus can see the movie before he dies. They make a cross-country trek to go to California where they encounter obstacles and problems along the way (such as a group of hostile Trekkies) that keep throwing a monkey wrench into their plans.
The movie has an unpolished feel to it and it shows by both the writing and the visuals. At times, it feels like a film-school piece. Many of the jokes fall flat although there are some really funny lines that will make some break into hysterics. The best lines though are given to the actors with cameos (Kevin Smith is hilarious in the fifteen seconds he’s in the movie). The costume designs could have used a lot more work and money as the Trekkie outfits looked like something picked up at a discount Halloween store. Even some of the props looked ridiculously fake. It’s weird how this movie sometimes feels like it had so much effort and care put into it and then there are large vapid periods in the movie that feel incredibly amateur. Many of the secondary stories, like the love story between Windows (Jay Baruchel) and Zoe (Kristen Bell) seem weak and more like a rushed idea to add another layer to the movie. Overall, the production values of the movie are below standard, although there are some entertaining moments.
The main characters are pretty week and none of them really have appealing personalities. The cameo roles are the best which is never a good sign for a movie. In fact, it’s more fun to watch out for celebrity cameos in the movie than care about the plight of the main characters. If the person that is supposed to be a small diversion is outclassing all the actors in major roles, there’s a problem. Seth Rogen and Kevin Smith shine in the very small roles that they play (William Shatner not so much). It’s not that the acting is bad, because the actors do a competent job (except for Baruchel who needs to stop taking lessons from inanimate objects). Dan Fogler is probably the most entertaining of all the main characters and if he continues to develop, he could be a comedy star on his own (Balls of Fury doesn’t count on account of it being such a bad movie). It’s more that the script fails the actors. The characters all seem either unlikeable or annoying (and not in a charming Urkel-like kind of way).
Despite these issues, Fanboys is a fun movie which, as long as one’s expectations are kept in check, is quite enjoyable. Despite poor writing from Ernest Cline and Adam F. Goldberg and studio interference that caused the story to be changed and then changed back, it’s a miracle that the film isn’t garbage. It’s below average but is still worth a look if you can’t sleep and find it on cable late at night. Spending money on the film would not be advisable.