Fantastic Fest Review: Kyle Newman's Fanboys
by Alex Billington
September 19, 2008
I kicked off my first ever Fantastic Fest down in Austin, TX with a comedy all about fanboys, which couldn't have been a more appropriate way to start this fest. Fanboys is a comedy from filmmaker Kyle Newman that follows four friends and their crazy cross-country adventure in an attempt to break into George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch and steal a rough copy of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace to be the first to watch it. In essence, it's a movie about Star Wars geeks made by Star Wars geeks. And considering I'm a Star Wars geek at heart, it hit that special spot within me that few films can. Fanboys takes us back to a time before the prequels, back when being a Star Wars geek was still a good thing.
Or so I think? Hutch (Dan Fogler), Linus (Chris Marquette), and Windows (Jay Baruchel) couldn't be bigger social misfits. Each one a bigger Star Wars fan then the next, the three decided to hop in their Star Wars-themed van and drive from Ohio to San Francisco in order to try and see The Phantom Menace before anyone else. They're fueled by Linus' cancer diagnosis, and convince their long-lost friend Eric (Sam Huntington) to join them on what may potentially be Linus' last trip. As anyone might predict, things get out of hand when Hutch makes a detour up to Iowa to bash some Trekkie heads and when Windows demands they drive through Texas so he can meet a friend who supposedly has plans to Skywalker Ranch. But in the end they do get to where they were originally headed, albeit with some unforgettable memories.
As hilarious as this was, especially for a huge Star Wars fan like myself, it's not the best comedy of the year. The biggest problem with Fanboys is that Dan Fogler really can't hold his own. As was proven with Balls of Fury prior, he's a great sidekick, but a terrible lead. If someone like Jonah Hill had been given the part instead, we might've had a much better movie. But beyond that, if you can at least get a kick out of watching four of the biggest Star Wars geeks in the entire world make every reference and every Star Wars joke imaginable, you might yet enjoy the film. It didn't always have the funniest jokes, but I gave it a pass because so much of it had a hilarious Star Wars tinge that only true fans, like myself, might actually get. Plus, I can appreciate a film that can accurately depict real fanboys, even with bad actors.
Fanboys seems like a film that has been stretched too thin by this point of time. Its been worked and reworked so much that all of those genuine story elements have been lost. Instead, we get an amalgamation of all the best jokes and all the best story elements, but not a complete story. The controversial cancer aspect that has been discussed over and over was included in the cut I saw, but without any actual advantage. It felt much too forced and never had any actual importance, even in the end. Overall I think Fanboys will find its place in the heart of many Star Wars geeks, but not too many others. And if you need any encouragement to see it, one of the best parts was watching Seth Rogen battle Seth Rogen in a Trekkie fan vs pimp fight.
Fantastic Fest Rating: 7 out of 10