Review: Fanboys

Starring: Sam Huntingdon, Chris Marquette, Dan Fogler, Jay Baruchel, Kristen Bell
Director: Kyle Newman
Rating: 15

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…I put this on my LoveFilm list.

There’s something fitting about the fact that this DVD arrived in the post from LoveFilm and sat around on our bookshelves for ages before I got around to watching it – considering I’d first heard about this film back when Kristen Bell was having to find time to film her scenes around her commitments to Veronica Mars (RIP) and, upon completion of filming, the movie collected dust in the studio as they decided exactly which cut of the film they wanted to release, I figured a few extra weeks sitting around in my living room weren’t going to do any more harm.

While I imagine that the length of time that this movie spent sitting on the shelf didn’t particularly help its cause, it suffers from a datedness that I suspect would have been just as acute had it been released in August 2007 as originally planned. The idea of a group of Star Wars fans trying to sneak into Skywalker Ranch to see The Phantom Menace before it was released to cinemas is not without promise, but it feels like something that would’ve made more sense as a concept if it was released in the run up to Episode 1’s arrival in cinemas, or at the very least at some point during the dubious reign of the prequel trilogy. For it to arrive two years after the third film (or, as it turned out, four years later) leaves it the material itself feeling tired – it’s too long ago to feel current, and not far enough in the past to really function as a period piece, looking at the hype from a present-day perspective. It also feels very obvious watching this film that a lot of tinkering was done in post-production – the “sent from my iPhone” joke is one glaring example of this that makes it difficult to pin this film down as belonging to one particular time, and leaves the whole product feeling uneven.

The lack of objective distance from the Star Wars franchise is one of the film’s biggest problems. I can appreciate that it would’ve been difficult to get the necessary legal permissions from Lucasfilm without agreeing to be reverent towards the movies to a certain extent, but the wave of disappointment that accompanied the release of Episode I – even from some of the franchises’s most devoted fans – is conspicuous by its absence here. I realise that this is meant to ultimately be an uplifting film about a group of misfits finding love and purpose thanks to Luke, Han, Leia et al, but the lack of any character suggesting that the first prequel was disappointing feels like a real misfire.

Speaking of misfires, there are a lot of jokes that just don’t work at all – the script is peppered with unfunny gay jokes and a protracted sequence in which the boys inadvertently wander into a gay stripper bar is overlong, unnecessary and not amusing in the slightest. I appreciate that it’s meant to be an ironic echo of the Star Wars Cantina, but if that was really the best reworking of the idea they could come up with, they might as well have not bothered.

Ultimately, it’s just too toothless as a satire of Star Wars and of fanboy culture in general to be particularly effective. It’s a nice idea, and an entertaining enough way to spend an hour and a half, but it just could’ve been so much better than it was and as a result it’s a waste of a mostly likeable cast.

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