Funny, I always thought of the National Lampoon crowd and Star Wars nation as separate demographics.
Apparently they’re the same, at least according to Fanboys.
A comedy about four Star Wars-obsessed buddies who break into George Lucas’ ranch to sneak a peek at The Phantom Menace, Fanboys is a pandering, puerile exercise, the equivalent of someone wearing a Stormtrooper outfit to a bachelor party. It costars John Belushi wannabe Dan Fogler, the star of Balls of Fury, and might as well be called National Lampoon’s Ball Wars for all the obvious, straight-to-DVD humor it offers.
The disastrous mish-mash of sensibilities is most likely a result of the lengthy dispute between director Kyle Newman and eventual distributor Harvey Weinstein (the picture was initially scheduled for release in 2007).
Not that Newman appears to have had great material to begin with. The fanboys in the film are an odd, disparate group. You have the familiar, comic-book nerd Windows (Jay Baruchel); the boorish, horny Hutch, who lives in his mother’s garage (Fogler); and then Eric (Sam Huntington) and Linus (Chris Marquette), two seemingly well-adjusted young men who have the misfortunate of being equally dull and looking exactly alike.
One thing does distinguish Linus: he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. This is the dubious motive – occasionally forgotten as the movie rolls along – for the quartet’s road trip. That adventure, incidentally, has less to do with Star Wars and more to do with gay biker bars, hallucinogenic guacamole and the endless quest to convince women to bare their breasts.
I suppose all of that would be bearable, in its own way, if the movie also tapped into exactly what it is about Star Wars that has captured the devotion of so many people. What is it that makes Star Wars fanboys – maybe not these National Lampoon versions, but real fanboys – tick?
Instead of an answer, Fanboys offers cameos from famous devotees (Seth Rogen, Kevin Smith) and inside jokes here and there (in a recurring gag, the guys have to pass obscure trivia quizzes to prove their worth). Too many of the references, though, are along the lines of this actual piece of dialogue: “What in Greedo’s name is that?”
Does anybody, even the nerdiest of Star Wars nerds, talk this way? It often feels as if Fanboys had been made by someone with no real passion for Lucas’ universe. (A meddling studio executive, perhaps?)
Of course, none of this means the movie won’t be embraced by real-life fanboys – after all, it has cameos by Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams and, can you believe, Ray Park!
Rather than celebrate the movie, though, fanboys should be embarrassed by it, if only for the juvenile way it depicts them.
I’m not a fanboy – I would have failed most of the movie’s quizzes – but the first Star Wars films were still formative moviegoing experiences for me. Fanboys, though, made me want to hide my love for those pictures, not celebrate it. If Fanboys was supposedly made by Star Wars fans and for Star Wars fans, why does it make me want to flee into the Star Wars closet?