Director: Kyle Newman
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Chris Marquette, Don Fogler, Sam Huntington, Kristen Bell
Who says you never learn anything from movies? Until seeing Fanboys I had no idea that there existed such a fierce rivalry between Trekkies and Star Wars fans (... Warsies?). I'm not someone who really understands the kind of obsessive fandom that those two franchises inspire but I found a lot to like in Fanboys. I'm sure there are plenty of little in jokes that I missed since I'm not part of fandom culture, but I still found it very accessible and very funny.
Set in 1998, the story centres on five friends: Linus (Chris Marquette), Eric (Sam Huntington), Windows (Jay Baruchel), Hutch (Don Fogler), and Zoe (Kristen Bell). While Eric has grown apart from the others since high school, the rest remain connected by their love for comic books and Star Wars. When Eric learns that Linus is dying, he realizes that he needs to find a way to reconnect with him before it's too late. He also wants to take the opportunity to make an impossible dream come true by dusting off an old plan they had had as children to break into the Skywalker Ranch. Windows and Hutch are game and the four set off on a road trip in Hutch's rickety van, which he fancies is the automobile equivalent of the Millennium Falcon.
Along the way, the boys have a series of small adventures, including a run-in with Star Trek fans, a drug fantasy involving an Ewok, an arrest, another run in with Star Trek fans, and encounters with William Shatner and hookers (not in the same scene). After being called to bail the boys out of jail, Zoe joins them for the rest of the journey and the five successfully break into Skywalker Ranch, which apparently has the worst security ever. Inside they find the Holy Grail of Geekery, including a copy of the as yet unreleased The Phantom Menace.
The film has a lot of affection for its characters and the world of fandom, which goes a long way. Fanboys are probably an easy target for mockery but the film isn't mean spirited in the way that it ribs the characters and instead celebrates their devotion to the mythology that certain pieces of work inspire. It has heart, in short, and a strange, disarming charm.
Matt's Thoughts: Fanboys is a love letter to Star Wars, and, as much as I glaze over everytime anyone starts talking about Star Wars to me, I think it's just awesome how unabashedly geeky these guys are about what they love. Each of the main characters are fleshed out in such a way that I would get along with them quite well, and I root for them in their pursuit, so I was taken by surprise when the film took that sharp turn from madcap romp around America to heartwarming tale of a friend's last adventure. It wouldn't affect me so much if they didn't make you care for these people, but, by the end of the movie, you really do care, and even though you know it's coming you just don't want it to. I never thought I would see camping out for the release of a new movie as a memorial for a fallen comrade, but it really works this time, and it becomes one of the films I could watch repeatedly and not tire of.