Fanboys – DVD Review

I first heard about this film back in 2006 when I saw a trailer for it on a DVD, and since that point Fanboys disappeared off the map. Years later, it comes back into circulation after having a limited release but cult success over in the States in 2009 and was gradually making its way over to the UK shores. However, after not even getting the cinematic release it was expected to, Fanboys went straight to DVD and has only just gotten its release on this format, thus once again likely disappearing off the map. And this truly is a shame!

Fanboys tells the story of four friends who get reunited with each other on Halloween 1998 – three years after they graduated and went their separate ways. Whilst three of them stuck together and stayed true to their geek roots, Eric (Sam Huntington) went off and joined his father to become a car salesman. But once they meet up again, Eric gets informed that his best friend Linus (Christopher Marquette) is suffering from terminal cancer and only has a few months to live. Along with fellow friends Hutch (Dan Fogler) and Windows (Jay Baruchel), a shared love of all things Star Wars and a dream of travelling across the country to steal an early cut of Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, they boldly go where – sorry – they travel to a state far, far away to break into Skywalker Ranch six months ahead of the release date of the film.

Fanboys is fantastic for many reasons. Firstly, although this is the same kind of plot that has been done a million times by films like Road Trip, Sex Drive, American Pie and any other teen-demographic travelling buddy movie you care to think of, there is genuinely brilliant writing that makes Fanboys stand out from the rest. The humour is in a total class of its own as it doesn’t succumb to the old trap of using crude humour and sex jokes to get their humour across (ok, so there’s perhaps one or two like that, but even then it’s really more implied). Instead, director and creator Kyle Newman knew exactly what kind of people this film would appeal to, and so instead took an entirely different take on the road trip story and made it entirely for fans of all things Sci-Fi.

The characters that make up the main cast if Fanboys are part of the overall humour that makes the film what it is. Kristen Bell makes a brilliant addition to the cast as Zoe, the punk girl who joins in with the guys, gets all the comic references and is pretty hot to boot. But then, that’s partly to do with the fact that she’s Kristen Bell… Jay Baruchel does the tall, lanky geek act really well (and surprised me when he played a more jerk-like character in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, another good film that I would recommend), and is the embodiment of what anyone would believe makes a “Star Wars geek”. Dan Fogler’s “Hutch”, however, is almost the exact opposite and is easily the best character out of the bunch as his is the character that says what other people are thinking. He IS the Han Solo that steals the show, and gets some of the best lines of the movie because of it!

The most original thing about the writing of Fanboys is the in-jokes and references, and the way they are sometimes so subtly delivered. There may be huge Star Wars references throughout the film, but there are also lots of little ones that you would otherwise miss if you weren’t listening properly. It’s every so often, in a single line perfectly placed in the scene so that it just blends into the dialogue like when Windows says “God, it’s been Parsecs” (Man-points to anyone who understands that joke!). It’s in Hutch’s van that has “hyperspace” that doesn’t work at first, and the way he has to hit the roof to make the van work. It’s the fact that Seth Rogen turns up as multiple characters, one of which is a leader of Star Trek fans that claims “it’s not ‘Trekkies’ it’s ‘Trekkers’” before he calls Han Solo a bitch and starts a war between Trek-Fans and Wars-Fans. Elements like these are what make up the true experience of Fanboys – because the big joke is that obviously, if you get these kinds of jokes, you ARE a fanboy yourself and proud of it!

Another aspect of Fanboys that will bring a smile to the faces of all members of the Rebel Alliance watching it is the huge amount of amazing cameos that Kyle Newman managed to gather together. Billy Dee Williams (aka Lando Calrissian) and Carrie Fisher (aka Princess Leia, for anyone out there that hasn’t seen Star Wars… shame on you…) turn up in unlikely roles as a court Judge and a Doctor respectively, William Shatner ironically enough turns up as the gangs secret informant “Scruffy Nerfherder”, Ray Park (Darth Maul) plays a baton-wielding security guard, even famous cult film director Kevin Smith has a cameo at one part whoring out Jason “Jay” Mews’ mouth for money!

However, for all its spoofs, one-liners and immensely hilarious Star Wars references, there is a sentimental side to Fanboys. The reason they are all doing this is so that they can get their friend Linus to see Episode 1 before he passes on without it being released. The point towards the end when you finally remember that this has all been for him is genuinely sentimental and gives Fanboys that little extra third-dimension it needs to round it off into a film that has every angle it needs totally wrapped up.

Of course, the biggest joke of all comes at the end, in the very last line of the whole film…

So why is Fanboys so awesome, you might be asking? It’s not just the critical yet witty references to one of the biggest franchises in cinema, but it’s more of that you know you’re not just watching another teen road movie. You’re watching something made BY Star Wars fans, FOR Star Wars fans. Jay Baruchel himself described the film as “a love letter to George Lucas”, and it’s easy to see how this is true. It’s funny, it’s touching, it’s got great characters that you’d probably want to be friends with in real life, and is generally a hugely fun experience.

I thoroughly recommend Fanboys as a generally good comedy, but it’s a complete and total must-see for anyone who’s ever dreamt of owning a real Lightsabre!