Cast, Crew, and Other Info:
Sam Huntington as Eric
Chris Marquette as Linus
Dan Fogler as Hutch
Jay Baruchelas Windows
Kristen Bell as Zoe
Seth Rogan as various
David Denham as Chaz
Christopher McDonald as Big Chuck
Danny Trejo as the Chief
Ethan Suplee as Harry Knowles
Allie Grant as Rogue Leader
Billy Dee Williams as the Judge
Carrie Fisher as the Doctor
William Shatner as himself
Jason Mewes as himself
Kevin Smith as himself
Full Cast and Crew information is available at the imdb
A socially arrested group head out on a road trip in ’98, intent on breaking into Skywalker Ranch and seeing The Phantom Menace before anyone else.
The allusion-heavy opening works, and sets up an engaging premise and some potentially interesting character dynamics. The conclusion returns to the characters, with a final line that should bring a knowing smile to fanboy and fangirl faces everywhere.
It’s a pity the character development couldn’t have been carried consistently throughout the film. Fanboys needed that to balance the raunch and silliness.3 As it stands, the film is neither consistently funny enough, nor affectionate enough.
The film features too many references that aren’t overly funny, and aims broadly at the “sexually frustrated/socially clueless” stereotype too often without always accurately hitting that easy mark.
Originality: 3/6. Fanboys doesn’t steer far from the road movie format, and the nerd in-joke movie has been done before (frequently by Kevin Smith). Still, this one does features a few original moments.
Effects: 4/6. This film has only a few visual effects, which serve their purpose.
Story: 4/6. The rambling plot exists to provide an opportunity for self-consciously silly gags and a small amount of character development. While this film pales beside recent gross-out comedies, sensitive viewers will find the contemporary tasteless Road Movie humor excessive in places.
Acting: 4/6 The acting is generally good, if one considers the kind of movie we’re watching. Seth Rogen manages three very different amusing performances, while Kirsten Bell creates perhaps the most memorable character. I wish the serious moments at the end had been better-woven throughout the entire film, as occurred in that recent road-movie hit, Little Miss Sunshine. They could have given the film a real heart.
Instead, I was left wondering why Linus’s cancer has no apparent effects on him, despite how near death stands.
Production: 4/6. Kudos to George Lucas for cooperating with the filmmakers.
Fundamentally, however, we have at least two different films here. Indeed, two different films were screened to test audiences. One emphasized the raunchy humor and excised the cancer plot entirely. The other emphasized the cancer plot. Some of the throwaway gags and cameos were then added later.
Emotional Response: 4/6. I found myself comparing this film with two similar, earlier works, Free Enterprise and Comic-Book Villains.1 I found the first funnier, with a somewhat healthier portrayal of fannish nerds. However, it also drags in places, and its plot doesn’t amount to much. Fanboys tries to do more with the characters, and it occasionally succeeds. It also boasts several amusing cameos. The wildly uneven Comic Book Villains presents its characters in the least positive light—and, of course, it is only partially a comedy.
Overall: 4/6. Fanboys has some good moments. If you’re a fan of Star Wars or a general SF nerd, you should get a few laughs from this movie. I kept wishing it had been the far better film one sporadically glimpses.
In total, Fanboys receives 27/42.
1. Although we’ve yet to give them proper reviews, we’ve discussed both Comic Book Villains and Free Enterprise here.
2. Goldberg had earlier penned a remake of Revenge of the Nerds, which was canceled a short time into production. One wonders if ideas from that project found their way into this script.
3. How strangely appropriate, given the film’s McGuffin, that it should fall down in its handling of interesting characters.