Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Movie Review: Fanboys
Well, I have definitely seen one of the worst movies of the year so far in Fanboys, directed by Kyle Newman. Starring Sam Huntington as Eric, David Marquette as Linus, and Kristen Bell as Zoe, this was one comedy that never got out of its own way.
Linus and his best friends, Hutch played by Dan Fogler and Windows played by Jay Baruchel are a trio of serious Star Wars fanboys, literally obsessed with all things Star Wars. Eric, Linus former best friend until he stopped hanging out with them after high school, runs into them at a party. After the party Hutch and Windows tell Eric that Linus has terminal cancer and only a has a few months to live. Not wanting to get trapped selling cars like his father and wanting to make amends for not being there for his friend, Eric devises a plan that the group has had since childhood. To travel across the country and break into the Skywalker Ranch, to see a cut of the impending release of a brand new Star Wars film months before anyone else has seen it, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. This way he can reconnect with his friends, and Linus will get a chance to see the film before his death.
Along the way they battle Star Trek fans, run afoul of the law (prompting hot nerd-friendly Zoe to spring them from jail and join their quest), smoke pot, and cause a riot in Las Vegas between a Star Trek Convention and a pimp looking to even the score until they finally reach their destination and break into the Ranch.
What kills the movie isn't the premise, its the forced Star Wars jokes and the general sense of nerdity that overwhelms the piece. The jokes seem to fall flat and all the characters are unbelievable. Hutch is way over the top, Windows is to nerdy even for life, Linus is vanilla, only Zoe manages to come across as any character who seemed to be able to hold her own in a scene. Even then though she is undermined by the horribly forced love story that she's a part of.
In terms of jokes and dialog, the film relies heavily on the minutia of Star Wars and the geek community, sending up everyone from Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News and Kevin Smith. Current funnyman darling Seth Rogan has two roles, as the leader of a group of angry Trekkies and as a Star Wars loving pimp the boys run into. Lucasfilm also gave the movie access to the library of Star Wars sound and the film takes an almost perverse joy in cramming the authentic sound effects in almost every scene. Even the groups Star Wars themed panel van sounds like the Millennium Falcon as it drives down the road. The worst part is the forced use of pop culture references, forcing any mention of any line from any Star Wars or Indiana Jones film that even remotely fits the scene. I am convinced one scene with the boys trapped in a gay leather bar was written simply to use the line," A wretched hive of scum and villainy."
The actors overall are fairly unknowns. Even the stunt casting of Rogan and Smith doesn't make anyone more likable. You don't really empathise with Linus dying, even in the end. I also think that in retrospect, most people don't qualify Episode 1 as a good film. Seeing these people obsess over a film, that while at the time may have been the most anticipated movie of all time, now kind of falls flat. A stronger cast or story might make that more workable, but here it just helps to accentuate the flaws. Another thing that hurt it was that the movie has been complete for nearly two years. The Weinstein Brothers, producers, have cut and recut this film several times, even taking out the cancer subplot at one point. The Internet hype for the film has long since cooled and that will hurt the films word of mouth, a big proponent to any success this type of nerd-friendly film would need.
If you are looking to see a funny movie, pass this one. The films only reward is Kristen Bell, and even her appearance in a slave girl Princess Leis outfit circa Return of the Jedi, isn't enough to save this film. Remember too, I can actually qualify as a Star Wars nerd and I am saying to stay away. Fanboys is just the kind of comedy that makes you feel bad about watching it.
End of Line.