Fanboys (2009)

fanboys IMDb

As someone who is starting to like Star Trek more than I like Star Wars (shhh… don’t tell Ben!), I take exception to how the Trekkies/Trekkers are portrayed in Fanboys. Yes, Trek was definitely not cool back in the early 2000s like it is now, but was Star Wars really that much cooler? I remember George Lucas devotees being skewered on late night TV for their obsession, and a lot of the fans lining up for Episode I midnight releases and attending sci-fi conventions dressed as Stormtroopers seemed just as dorky as the red shirt wearers portrayed here. It’s hard to believe that either group could feel superior to the other, because before geek-chic became a thing we were all in the same nerd boat.

This entire Wars vs Trek storyline is just one more unnecessary cliche in a movie already too full of them. Everything about Fanboys seems forced and contrived. The twists are visible from a mile away, and most of the jokes just weren’t funny enough. It’s like the writers made a list of every possible reference to geek culture and decided to cram them all into one movie. This is such a shame, because I feel that with even a tiny bit of restraint this movie could have been excellent.

The story itself holds promise: after learning that one of them is dying of cancer, four friends decide to take a cross-country road trip to break into Skywalker Ranch and watch Episode I: The Phantom Menace before it’s released. The portions of the film that I connected with most involved this cancer subplot. These moments bring real heart to the film, and help make the characters believable. Unfortunately these moments are far too fleeting.

This was obviously meant as a love letter to the Star Wars fandom, and I’m sure many of them will see a bit of themselves in this, but for me the whole thing felt too exaggerated. If the jokes had been better I could have forgiven the stock characters, but the movie seems to rely too much on played out stereotypes that wear thin too quickly.

Rating: C-

This film is one big inside joke for Star Wars nerds like myself. It shows very clearly that Star Wars fans are willing to laugh about themselves. This film captures really well what it is like to be a Star Wars fan and in the late 90s when waiting for Episode I to be released was more than any of us could bear.

Fanboys follows four old friends (Jay Baruchal, Dan Fogler, Sam Huntington and Chris Marquette) in 1998, six months before the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. When Linus (Marquette) discovers he has cancer and is given months to live, his friends decide to take him on a road trip to Skywalker Ranch and steal a rough cut of the anticipated film so their friend can enjoy it before he dies. Along the way, they encounter nutty Star Trek fans, travel to comic cons, and run into William Shatner, too.

There are so many inside jokes in this film. As a Star Wars fan, I’m able to appreciate most of them. I really loved how Trek fans were portrayed because it is how I’ve always pictured them. Proper dorks that take themselves far too seriously. I think that is what has always separated Trek fans from Star Wars fans. Star Wars fans are definitely able to denigrate themselves a lot easier. They embrace the fact that they’re nerds and they don’t care. I feel like Trekkies have a bit of a chip in their shoulder and overcompensate for it.

The cameos in this film are also a lot of fun. Seth Rogen is very funny as the lead Trekkie, amongst other roles. Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher also cameo too.

I found this film very funny, but I’m definitely the target market for this movie. I can understand that this film is not for everyone, but if you’re a Star Wars geek, you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: B

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