Welcome back to Netflix Nonsense, the new thingie on my blog. Wanting to get the most out of my $8/month Netflix account, I decided to take to the blog and jot down my thoughts on whatever offering I pulled up on Netflix. This past weekend, I caught one of those films that gained a lot of infamy in geek circles, but only now am I finally sitting down to watch it, Fanboys.
Fanboys had a long road to finally getting into theatres. Independently made, it was screened at various cons where it got rave reviews from actual fanboys. It was then acquired by the Weinstein Company for a late 2007 release. But...the Weinsteins figured it needed some tinkering. Reshoots were done, it was re-edited, a different director was brought in to do different reshoots, thus leading to a massive online campaign that the original uncut version should be released. While all this was going on, the legend grew, leading to more celebrities wanting cameos in the films, so their cameos had to be shot. All this re-shooting and re-editing wound up getting the film pushed back to 2008. It eventually got a very, very, very limited released in the spring of 2009, and released to DVD and Blu-Ray soon after.
Its legend began with it's premise, and if your a geek like me, it's got a pretty spectacular premise. It's the fall of 1998. A group of twentysomethings are lifelong Star Wars fans and are doing what every lifelong Star Wars fan was doing at that point in history: counting down the minutes to the May 1999 release of Episode I. But then, tragedy strikes. One of their group is diagnosed with inoperable cancer, and isn't going to live to see the film. So their buddy can enjoy Episode I with the rest of them, they decided to head out on a road to trip to San Fransisco, break into the fabled Skywalker Ranch, and steal an advance copy of Episode I. And their off on their road trip, where they take a detour to pick fights with some Trekkies, get the crap beaten out of them by Harry Knowles, end up in Vegas where they have a misunderstanding with some hookers (because it's a road trip movie), and come to terms with their friend's cancer.
So our ragtag band of geeks starts off with Eric, played by Sam Huntington. He's drifted apart from the others, trying to put all childish things like Star Wars behind him, and he's working as a car salesman. His dad is the owner of a chain of car lots, and his father is getting ready to turn the family business over to him. But one night, at a Halloween party, he comes back into contact with his old friends.
There's Windows, the stereotypical computer geek, played by before-he-was-famous Jay Baruchel. He owns and runs a small comic book store. There's Hutch, the stereotypical "never moved out of his mother's basement and got a life" geek. We've got Linus, the friend who's dying of cancer. We eventually learn that there's a rift between Eric and Linus which led to Eric's drifting. Turns out they were both really talented artists in high school, and because Eric went off to play grown-up, he abandoned his and Linus's dream of conquering the world of comic books. Rounding out the gang is Zoe, the token grrrl geek who works at Windows' computer store, played by "Veronica Mars just got canceled and I've got bills to pay" Kristen Bell. A "before-he-was-famous" Seth Rogan even pops up in multiple roles as the leader of the Trekkies that they pick a fight with, the pimp they run afoul of in Vegas, and a Klingon security guard at a Vegas Star Trek convention.
Yeah...playing up the old "Star Wars/Star Trek" rivalry, Star Trek really does get a reaming.
I can see why the Weinsteins had problems with this film and why there was so much tinkering. Don't get me wrong, the movie is funny as hell...but it's only funny if you yourself are a fanboy, and therefore get all the jokes about Star Wars and other things geeky. If you don't have that knowledge coming into it, it's going to leave you cold.
If you don't get all those jokes, then what you're left with is an incredibly cliched road trip movie. All the road trip tropes are in play, such as the adventure in Vegas with a run-in with some call girls. We've also got the "staring deeply into the Grand Canyon while you sort shit out" cliche, the "let's give up and go home, leading to an inspiring speech that makes them keep going" cliche, and the "misunderstanding in a biker bar" cliche.
And because this is a movie about geeks, when we're not getting the Star Wars in-jokes, we get the typical "laugh at the stupid geeks" jokes that were already old in the film's time frame of 1998. For example, at the end of the film, our heroes are given a test to see if they are true Fanboys. And the test isn't demonstrating a knowledge of Star Wars, but demonstrating a lack of knowledge about pleasing a woman in bed. Ha! Because if you like sci-fi, no woman will sleep with you! Get it? GET IT? WE'VE ONLY BEEN TELLING THAT JOKE SINCE 1982! WE'LL KEEP TELLING IT UNTIL YOU GET IT!
So, yeah. It's got some laughs, but the characters are all caricatures of geeks, and the plot is cliched as hell.
And that's one hell of a loaded final line.