Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nerd Wars: A Review of Fanboys

Kyle Newman's Fanboys is a 90 minute reiteration of all my nerd theory philosophizing. From the multiple scenes of Fanboy on Trekkie violence to the repeated comments of scornful Star Wars Fans mocking lowly Trekkies, the lack of unity among the I-live-in-my-mother's-basement crowd permeates the entire film. With cameos by Billy Dee Williams, William Shatner, and Carrie Fisher, there's plenty of campy fun and nit-picky allusions to satisfy both the casual movie watcher and the hardcore fan. However, I doubt that someone who's never seen Empire Strikes Back or who think Jar Jar Binks is hilarious would seriously appreciate the film.

Fanboys follows four friends as they travel cross country in 1998 to break into Skywalker Ranch (for the uninitiated, that's the home of George Lucas) and steal a rough cut of Phantom Menace six months prior to its release. The one friend's terminal illness tempers the absurb nature of the plot and gives it an almost touching twist. He is, after all, a true fan and couldn't possibly consider dying without having seen the much anticipated film. So it's easy to believe that he would risk everything to steal the rough cut and breathe the rarified air of Skywalker Ranch. Of course, there is the overriding irony that every Star Wars Fan recognizes - Phantom Menace sucked.

As for stars, there aren't many in this film, and that is part of its charm. There are no big names among the main characters (with the possible exception of Kristen Bell who plays the ultimate girl nerd sidekick.) Seth Rogen makes some appearances as minor characters, though in his first appearance as a periodontally challenged Trekkie, he is almost unrecognizable. There are also the memorable cameos that I mentioned before, but mostly it's just a bunch of guys who were probably nerds in high school making a film about guys who were nerds in high school. The exuberance with which the actors approach these gleefully socially inept characters is charming and hilarious.

Both the director and the actors described Fanboys as a "love letter" to the work of George Lucas. The description seems apt. From the scene in the Lucas vault where the gang fondles all his movie memorabilia to the perfectly timed trip into the Lucas trash compactor, there was nothing but love for all things Lucas. While this film is a laugh a minute for Star Wars Fans, it may not be for everyone. Though it isn't as "colorful" as some of the other like-minded films (Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Zack and Miri), it does feature a cameo of Jay and Silent Bob, and as every nerd knows, Kevin Smith is somewhat synonymous with less-than-lily-white humor. They did manage to avoid the crude-for-crude's-sake humor that can sometimes lead to boredom.

If you're the type of person who can quote Star Wars dialogue like Scripture and thinks Dog the Bounty Hunter is a Boba Fett rip off, then this is the film for you. Watch it and enjoy philosophical debates about Luke and Leia's nefarious kiss. Watch it and know you're not alone. And may the force be with you.

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