People Tell Me I Look Like Han Solo.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
  DVD Review: Fanboys

Fanboys is a horrendously bad movie, possibly the worst thing I’ve reviewed for this blog. The story of this “comedy” follows a group of geeks who embark on a road trip to break into George Lucas’ ranch to steal a copy of Star Wars: Episode I months before its release in the summer of 1999 because one of them is dying of cancer and won’t survive to see its theatrical release. On its own, that premise could be mined for laughs, but it would have to be by more talented people than the creators of Fanboys, because this movie sucks. Hard.

I’m enough of a Star Wars geek that Fanboys should be right up my proverbial alley. It’s filled with references large and small to George Lucas’ sci-fi/fantasy saga, and I got every single one. But none of them are funny. To their credit, the filmmakers do expand their jokes beyond purely Star Wars references, but those aren’t funny either. One of two good jokes in the entire movie is that the security guards at Lucas’ ranch are dressed like the android guards in Lucas’ debut feature film, THX-1138. Aside from that, Fanboys is a collection of nerd stereotypes and weak sophomoric humour.

The cast of Fanboys isn’t terrible, on paper. Dan Fogler is capable of making me laugh (I’ve caught bits of Balls of Fury on cable and it seems surprisingly watchable), but here he’s just a standard obnoxious loudmouth. Jay Baruchel, one of the secret weapons in Tropic Thunder, is wasted. (He’s a nerd with big glasses! And he’s called “Windows” because he’s into computers! Get it?!?!?) The only cast member who acquits herself well is Kristen Bell as the token girl. Leaving aside the implausibility of a girl that smart and cute hanging out with a bunch of losers like this (and I say this while sitting comfortably on the “losers” side of the cosmic equation; I speak from experience), her character of a ballsy, take-no-guff chick who’s more capable than all the guys put together, is a nice echo of Princess Leia’s character in the original 1977 Star Wars.

For all the geek references and cameos peppered throughout Fanboys, the movie’s ultimate undoing is that it’s just not funny. Nothing is clever, the bulk of the jokes are obvious, and when they’re not they’re just stupid. (If you’re a coSee, there's a scene like this in 'Star Wars'! Brilliant!medy screenwriter and you come up with a scene where the male heroes unwittingly enter a gay bar, just go ahead and kill yourself. Or, if you’re not into dramatic gestures, find another job.) I vaguely recall reading somewhere that there was a mini-controversy over the studio’s handling of Fanboys’ release – it sat on a shelf for a couple of years and apparently the studio was a bit apprehensive about a so-called comedy in which one of the leads has terminal cancer – but a far more plausible explanation is that they saw that this movie is terrible and were reluctant to dump it on an unsuspecting public. My inner geek could never imagine I could write this, but even Kristin Bell in the Slave Leia bikini can’t save this one. Ninety minutes staring at a wall would be time better spent.



There’s a commentary track with director Kyle Newman and the cast, which has a nicely jovial tone, particularly when the actors, who seem to get along famously, swap jokes and amusing stories from their time filming the movie. Newman steps in to moderate a few times, but the more he tries to discuss why certain things are funny (and they never actually are), the more ridiculous he sounds.

Also included are a pile of deleted scenes, a handful of fluffy featurettes about how great the movie is, and a series of webisodes made during production. It’s a nice enough DVD package; too bad the movie sucks.

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