Review: Fanboys (2009)

This article was published on the original Sorry I’m on 21/06/09.


It’s 1998, and for four die-hard Star Wars fans (they’re fanboys. Get it?) anticipation for the new Star Wars movie, The Phantom Menace, to be released in nearly fifteen years has reached boiling point. Upon revealing that one buddy Linus (Marquette) has terminal cancer, and with not enough time to live to make the theatrical release of the film, the group (Huntington, Baruchel and Fogler) embark on a cross country journey to George Lucas’ famed Skywalker Ranch and steal a rough copy of the film. Joined by nerd-girl Zoe (Bell), road trip fun and shenanigans ensue on their very own hero’s journey.

Don’t be turned off by the very clichéd road movie plot, because although Fanboys follows similar tropes seen in many that have come before it, the film is just too damn charming to not like. And it’s quite possible that it couldn’t have been. Producer Harvey Weinstein’s vision of this much maligned film (originally set for release in 2007) was a final cut that saw the cancer subplot ditched for, well, nothing apparently. A big mistake it would have been, our friend Yoda would have said. The cancer subplot drives the entire narrative, and was never played with too much emotion but enough for to get a connection with the audience without being depressing. Kudos to the filmmakers involved who stood for their original vision, even though it delayed the release by years.

Also, without the cancer plot, the driving force and emotional core that it is, this movie would have been in major jeopardy of receiving a Dr. Ian Malcolm. Not cool.

Although watchable by non-fans of the Star Wars series, knowledge of Super Star Destroyers, Wookies, Corellian Crusiers, Greedo and Admiral Ackbar go to great lengths in a true appreciation of the many references involved. Obviously the target demographic was Star Wars fans which can expand to Sci-Fi fans and general movie fans with awareness of all things Vader. Outside that small, devoted niche lies the rest of the world, and I can’t see Average Joe getting as much enjoyment out of this as opposed to other mainstream comedies on the market.

There are a lot of familiar faces though, so let’s pound through some:
From Star Wars we get Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams (smooth as ever, this time with a hilarious name) and Ray Park, and a who’s who of today’s comedy elite including Seth Rogen (getting his Sellers on in multiple roles), Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Joe Lo Truglio, Ethan Suplee, Will Forte, Danny Trejo and William Shatner. That’s a hell of a list and a big reason why this film entertained me so damn much, I couldn’t wait to see who was next.

Fanboys got a very limited release worldwide, be it due to the issues with the final cut, subject matter or something else I don’t even know. Especially in Australia. In fact I was waiting for this one to go direct to DVD as is the case with fare which does not perform in the States. So it was with revelation when I found out that it was being shown in a limited run at the Australian Centre of the Moving Image in Federation Square, Melbourne. So props to those who decided to show it on the big screen before its eventual release on DVD, as it deserves the big screen treatment, even if it is just for a little bit.

The ACMI season is now over so definitely one to check out on home video.

Although light on the belly-laughs, an entertaining mix of obscure Star Wars references and an impressive cast of cameos ensure Fanboys rises above what would have otherwise been another tired road trip movie into an enjoyable experience.

– Who doesn’t love Star Wars jokes? Assholes, probably.
– Judge Reinhold!
– A grandiose array of cameos.
– Christopher McDonald. Badass.
– Kristen Bell + Slave Leia costume = BONER.

– Not exactly your laugh-out-loud comedy, just entertaining and kind of amusing.
– No Mark Hamill? Damn. Normally something I can see him doing.

– Star Wars
– The Empire Strikes Back
– Return of the Jedi
– The Phantom Menace (but what if it sucks? lol)

Directed by: Kyle Newman
Written by:
 Ernest Cline, Adam F. Goldberg
Produced by:
 Dana Brunetti, Kevin Spacey, Matthew Pernicaro, Evan Astrowsky, Kevin Mann
 Sam Huntington, Jay Baruchel, Chris Marquette, Dan Fogler, Kristen Bell, David Denman, Christopher McDonald
Distributed by:
 The Weinstein Company / Third Rail Releasing
Run length:
 90 minutes
Australian Release:
 5 June 2009


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