Sam Huntington as Eric
Chris Marquette as Linus
Dan Fogler as Hutch
Jay Baruchel as Windows
Kristen Bell as Zoe
David Denman as Chaz
Christopher McDonald as Big Chuck
Charlie B. Brown as Myron
Isaac Kappy as Garfunkel
Seth Rogen as Admiral Seasholtz / Alien / Roach
Thom Bishops as The Vulcan / Gruvock
Clark Sanchez as Bartender
Stanley Shunkamolah as Thick-Necked Thug
Danny Trejo as The Chief
Hugh Elliot as Ewok
Directed by Kyle Newman
With the movies of Kevin Smith acting as its blueprint, “Fanboys” is little more than the worst possible geek handjob, a movie by overly zealous fans that will only appeal to other fans and no one else.
It’s 1998 and four friends (Sam Huntington, Chris Marquette, Dan Fogler and Jay Baruchel) go on the road to George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in order to be the first to see the upcoming “Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace”, the first movie in the franchise for nearly 15 years.
On paper, this long-delayed road comedy from the Weinstein Company would seem like a “Star Wars” geek’s wet dream come true. Certainly, there’s a strong enough premise at its core that there should be a movie here, and it’s probably why the fans have been clamoring for the movie’s release. Unfortunately, the finished movie doesn’t deliver on its promise and it’s such a mess that it certainly isn’t worth the long wait.
The movie follows four childhood friends from the Midwest, two of them–Sam Huntington’s Eric and Christopher Marquette’s Linus–who haven’t spoken for years after getting into a fight over some “Star Wars” triviality or another. With the release of the first new “Star Wars” movies in fifteen years and with Linus dying of cancer, they put aside their differences with a plan to sneak into the Skywalker Ranch to watch “Episode I” before everyone else, the ultimate wet dream for four guys who’ve lived and breathed “Star Wars” for their entire lives.
Having sat on the shelf for many years, this material already feels dated compared to other recent comedies, and it probably would have worked better if released opposite the final installment of the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy as originally planned. The reason for the movie’s delays quickly become evident as you watch the story unfold with very few surprises or laughs, the most obvious stumbling block being that it uses the movies of Kevin Smith, particularly “Mallrats” and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” as its model. There’s only so far you can go with such weak material as the outfield for which you’re aiming. As the movie goes along, it becomes obvious that the material isn’t strong enough to sustain itself through a movie as we get a lot of weak in-jokes that pale in comparison to the far more effective and biting humor with which “Robot Chicken” and Evan Dorkin have dealt with “Star Wars” fandom. One of the most annoying recurring jokes involves how “Star Trek” and its fans suck compared to “Star Wars,” as we repeatedly see the friends get into conflicts when they deliberately visit the birthplace of William Shatner and try to crash a Trek Convention in Las Vegas.
Director Kyle Newman has pulled together a generally strong comedy cast, but the results are surprisingly dull and not entertaining. Chris Marquette tunes down his humor to play a more serious role, while Dan Fogler continues to be little more than a poor man’s Jack Black, going for the same schtick as he did in “Balls of Fury” without the material to back it up. Even so, when you have the likes of Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel from Judd Apatow’s camp in your movie, you’d expect something more irreverent, clever and funny, but neither of them are doing their best work. In fact, Rogen is almost unrecognizable in either of his dual roles, neither of them being particularly amusing. There is a somewhat sweet subplot involving a geek romance between Kristen Bell’s tough Zoe–she’s clearly the best part of the movie–and Jay Baruchel’s nerdy “Windows,” but it’s such an obvious and predictable way to go with the story, trying to make geeks feel better about their non-existent chances with the ladies.
On top of that, the movie is filled with cameos by the likes of William Shatner and Billy Dee Wiliams, mostly done as a nod and a wink to the fans, though possibly the funniest moment involves an appearance by former Kevin Smith sideman Ethan Suplee playing the biggest geek of all in every sense of the word, Harry Knowles from Ain’t It Cool News. By the time the real Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes make an appearance for a short scatological joke that seems more on par with their normal schtick, the film’s obvious reverence to their work has grown tiresome.
Eventually, the foursome arrive at Skywalker Ranch, and the movie becomes more of an homage to Lucas himself with jokes involving security guards dressed like the police in “THX-1138” and various scenes from “Star Wars” recreated by the friends. Considering what a big geek wankfest the entire movie has been, the big denouement could only be an appearance by George Lucas himself, but only the most diehard of fans could possibly be satisfied watching the characters moon over his presence. Even after all that, he movie could only end with the most obvious punchline, considering how poorly the fans reacted to “The Phantom Menace.”
Essentially, this movie is nothing more than an attempt to stroke the “Star Wars” fans, as they’re lovingly mocked by the filmmakers. They’re probably the only ones who might appreciate what is generally a weak and unfunny movie. One can only imagine “Fanboys” is the kind of movie that should be seen at a comic convention, rather than wasting theater space at the multiplex, because the best parts of the movie probably aren’t good enough to fit among the outtakes of even Kevin Smith’s worst movie.