Fanboys (2009)

It is now time for a long overdue movie review.  I’ve been a huge fan of Kristen Bell since I discovered Veronica Mars years ago.  As I absorbed the series, I became a bigger and bigger fan.  When I realized that season 4 was not going to happen, I was crushed but I knew I would always support the alumni of the show.  That’s what caused me watch the show Flashpoint (which is awesome) and made me love Moonlight a little more than I would have.  I’m even going to get around to watching Party Down if I ever get the chance.

I was flipping channels today as I tried to beat the heat and came upon a little movie called Fanboys.  Now, I had heard a little bit about Fanboys in the past but I never got around to watching it.  What caught my interest was that in the scene I happened upon, Kristen Bell was front and center.  Consider my interest piqued.  I hit record on the DVR and decided to watch it later since the movie was almost over

The movie is about four guys trying to travel from Ohio to San Francisco to break into Skywalker Ranch to see an early screening of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.  The four friends are lifelong fans of Star Wars (although, like me they weren’t yet born when A New Hope came out) One of them has cancer and is not expected to stay alive until the movie actually comes out.

Although the movie is mostly an ensemble movie,  Sam Huntingdon plays Eric who is arguably the lead.  For a minute, I thought it was Shia Lebouf in this part but Sam Huntingdon is way better and was also in Veronica Mars. (Bonus!)  Eric is facing a dilemma in that he always wanted to pursue being a comic book creator but fell into working at his dad’s car dealership in order to make a living.

Chris Marquette plays Linus who has cancer and was always best friends with Eric.  He’s disappointed in Eric for giving up his dream but also mad at Eric for not talking to him for three years.  He’s not ready to forgive Eric for leaving his friends behind.  He drew up a plan for a road trip to Skywalker Ranch when he and the gang were in elementary school.  He is also struggling with accepting his own mortality.

Dan Fogler plays Hutch, the requisite uber-fanboy man-child.  He likes to “bitchslap some trekkies” and will punch a man for demeaning Han Solo.  He is constantly trying to use jedi mind tricks on women and delights in embarassing and bullying his friends.  Despite all that, he’s actually really enjoyable to watch as I have definitely had friends like him.  The kind of guy that you’re friends with for no clear reason.

Jay Baruchel plays uber-nerd Windows and his name is never explained.  He is teased by the other three for having an internet girlfriend until said girlfriend is able to get them blueprints to Skywalker Ranch.  His journey is one of self-discovery and becoming comfortable with who he is and what he really wants.  On top of that, he has some of the funniest lines in the whole movie.

Kristen Bell plays Zoe, the geek girl of the group.  Somehow they avoid her being a complete stereotype and she is a lot of fun in this movie.  I don’t know if Kristen Bell has geeky pursuits in real life or not but it does not matter as she pulls off a believable comic book/sci-fi geek here.  She is also hands down the toughest character and the funniest performance of the movie which is actually saying a lot.  I won’t spoil her journey in the film.

There is plenty more to love in the film.  There’s cameos from Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher and Ray Park all of whom are Star Wars alumni.  There’s a surprise Star Trek cameo as well which I won’t spoil.  There’s a cameo from Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith at one point as well.  Seth Rogen plays three funny characters, the first of which took me three minutes to realize it was him.

The movie really surprised me at how good it was.  It was not great cinema but it was an enjoyable road picture where the characters actually experienced growth.  The general feel of the movie reminded me of Detroit Rock City, a movie I actually remember liking a lot.  I don’t remember if it was ever stated in the movie but the characters are around college aged.  Though it is mentioned that Windows owns a comic book shop and Eric does have a serious job so maybe they’re closer to 30 than 20.

Apparently there was controversy over the editing of this film and the movie was delayed for years so they could do some reshoots.  Executive meddling almost cut out the whole cancer storyline which would have torn the heart right out of the movie.  I vaguely remember the protests and campaign against producer Harvey Weinstein so I’m happy the director/writer got as much of his original script as possible up on screen.

It was obvious that Lucasfilms was heavily involved in the movie but not enough to actually meddle in it.  It looks like they gave a lot of access and permissions for a lot of licensed stuff.  On the other hand, Viacom/Paramount gave absolutely no permission for Star Trek images or logos.  It makes the Star Trek stuff a little awkward but it still gets the point across.

I definitely recommend this movie.  Go ahead and watch it.

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