Published Apr 02, 2009The passion of a fanboy is never safe to call into question, but it's tough to argue against Star Wars for having the most passionate geeks, I mean, nerds, umm, fans.
Yes, The Lord of the Rings has its devoted dressed up as orcs and hobbits, Star Trek has its Klingon-fluent Trekkies, sorry, Trekkers, but the younger, sexier Star Wars has captured more imaginations universally. And so we have Fanboys, a harmless, sometime humorous, little flick that was almost shelved indefinitely thanks to studio bigwig Harvey "Darth" Weinstein's tampering.
Set in 1998 Ohio, four high school buddies, now in their 20s, devise a plot to break into George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch in San Francisco and steal a copy of The Phantom Menace. They hit the road in an airbrushed van outfitted with Star Wars trading cards, an R2-D2 sunroof and a Wookiee horn, first stopping in Iowa to desecrate the home of Captain James T. Kirk and rumble with some Trekkers (led by a disguised Seth Rogen), then to Austin to meet Windows' (Jay Baruchel) internet girlfriend and her uncle, Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News, then finally hitting the strip in Vegas to get blueprints of the Ranch from an informant (a shameful cameo by William Shatner).
When they arrive, the posse (including Kristen Bell as the token fangirl) try to outwit a cameo-heavy security unit (Craig Robinson, Will Forte, Danny McBride) in order to reach their holy grail. While it's hard not to love the faithful attention to detail and nerdy love that helped execute such a niche project, where Fanboys loses its "force" is in not having fun with its subjects. As everyone knows, fanboys are ripe for ridicule — they turned Star Trek into a never-ending punch line — but Newman fails to do the same with his passion, turning his geeks into lovable heroes instead of using them for their comedic relief (we all know that Star Wars is just as ridicule ripe as Trek).
And not to side with Darth Weinstein but the same can be said for the tired subplot from screenwriters Ernest Cline and Adam F. Goldberg. They eschew turning this absurd mission, one that every geek once dreamed of, into a full-on riotous romp and instead go for not one but two tired clichés: the coming-of-age story and terminal illness.
Why not let the fanboys just indulge in their fantasy without such complications as cancer and growing up? We all know most of them never actually accept adulthood anyways. (Alliance)