Fanboys ends with two of the main characters, Linus and Eric, sit and talk looking on their friends as they finally make up, with the song Fair by Remy Zero playing. It’s a touching end to the film, one that has seen considerable drama over the past two or so years since principle filming ended. Studio intrusions, fan boycotts, lack of advertising and other problems, and it is a relief to finally see it on the big screen.
Fanboys is the story of four Star Wars fans from high school, who, several years after they drifted apart, got back together to do a road trip cross country to Skywalker Ranch to steal a copy of The Phantom Menace. Why not just wait? Because one of the four, Linus, is suffering from cancer, and won’t live to see the premiere of the film. Linus and Eric also haven’t been speaking for years because they had drifted apart, and the film serves as a story of friendship and a mutual love for Star Wars. The film for most people would probably be middle of the pack – above the Adventure Movie! or whatever crap is being released by those writers, but below some of the more pinnacle comedies of similar genre, such as Superbad or something along those lines.
However, to anyone who has ever been a fan of the Star Wars movies, this will be one to see. Actually, really anyone who is a geek, nerd, dork or other so-called social outcast should find this amusing, provided you have a good sense of humor and self-deprecating attitude. Geek references are everywhere, ranging from Star Wars (duh) to things like Thunder Cats, X-Men, Star Trek, GI-Joe, Wonder Twins, any number of things that a geek in the late 90s would get. The movie is essentially a tribute to the genre and its fans, and doesn’t shy away from that in the slightest. Sharp-eyed fans will have a fun time picking out a number of the cameos of celebrities (especially from the SW movies) who range from Carrie Fisher to Billy Dee Williams to Kevin Smith and William Shatner.
But this film is more than just a series of throwaway laughs as the group travels across country to get beaten up by Harry Knowles (of Ain’t It Cool News – who should have been in a wheel chair), to wandering into a gay bar, smashing a statue of James Kirk (and ironically, there was a Star Trek trailer before this. Huh?) to wandering into a Star Trek convention to have William Shatner give them the plans for Skywalker Ranch. The story, once you look beyond the gags, is one that has some good themes to it – the bonds of friendship, a shared love for the Star Wars movies, but also about identity, which is something that I haven’t seen a whole lot of when it comes to films like this, and it really does bring the film up a bit.
There is a perception of the geeks/nerds/fanboys out there that this film plays into, and we see them represented amongst the main characters – you have the overweight guy in need of a shower, the tall, spindly one who has trouble interacting with people, especially the opposite sex and the undersized guy who knows everything about it. To boot, you have the geek-girl who is feisty and geeky, and the geeky guy who’s made efforts to distance himself from the perceptions, and is somewhat normal. The identity crisis really comes with Eric, who had gone to get a real job, and left his friends behind at their comic book store, and is blamed by Linus for this abandonment. I found this to be the most interesting part of the film in a way, because it felt the most honest. Eric has a dream where he sees his father as an Imperial, and essentially realizes that he really can’t turn his back on who he really is, as he sketches comics after hours in his dad’s car dealership, and while still being able to passionately argue about Luke and Leia’s complicated relationship. I particularly identify with elements of all the characters, and together, they show that they are a team, a group of friends who depend upon each other, and fully embrace who they are – fanboys.
At points, I’m a little bothered by the general perception of geeks/nerds/fanboys et al, because it’s an inherently unfair one, perpetrated by people who really don’t understand the passion that we feel towards the genre and the specific works within it. This film, while it reinforces some of these views, goes beyond that, and tells a good story about it, one that made me laugh almost from the beginning to the end, but also brought about a number of sobering moments, such as at the end with Remy Zero’s song, when the film closes without Linus. It is a bittersweet ending, and I can understand why the Weinstein company wanted to alter the cancer storyline to have something upbeat, but by keeping that aspect of the film intact, it made the film memorable, something beyond the gag film. Plus, it has Kristin Bell in a Slave Leia costume.And, the 501st Legion got a mention.