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30 May, 2009

DVD Review: FANBOYS

Title: FANBOYS

Year of Release—Film: 2008

Year of Release—DVD: 2009

DVD Label: Genius Products, llc




Fanboys, Geeks, Nerds… those are some of the nicer terms used to describe those so devoted to some facet of pop culture that their devotion borders—and sometimes ventures boldly into—obsession. The object of that single-minded pursuit is unimportant, be it Dungeons and Dragons, Anime, or, as demonstrated in the new Trigger Street Productions/Weinstein Company film FANBOYS, the universe of STAR WARS. What is important is that for those so afflicted, nothing is more important… not even a battle with terminal cancer.

It’s Halloween, 1998, and four twenty-something buddies, Eric, Hutch, Windows, and Linus, are six years out of high school, and for three of them, time has essentially stood still. Hutch still lives in his mother’s garage; he and Windows operate a small comic-book shop; they still hang out with Linus, dressing up as stormtroopers, playing video games, and generally just drifting through life. Eric, who works for his father’s chain of used car dealerships, is the only one who seems to have progressed towards adulthood since high school, and he has grown distant from his former friends, though whether this is the reason for, or a consequence of, his relative maturity is debatable.

When Eric is informed that his best friend Linus is dying of cancer, and won’t live long enough to see the premiere of the new STAR WARS film, the quartet resurrects a childhood plan to pull off the impossible mission: Sneak into George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in order to steal a print of Episode 1, THE PHANTOM MENACE, so that Linus can see it before his death. Along the way, between encounters with terribly misrepresented Trekkers, a pimp, William Shatner, Jay and Silent Bob, and an enraged Harry Knowles, the four discover that friendship, whatever foundation it may be built upon, really can beat the odds.

Directed by Kyle Newman, from a script by Ernest Cline and Adam F. Goldberg, FANBOYS is, as described by Newman himself, a “… love letter to STAR WARS.” The director, an admitted STAR WARS Fanboy like the characters in his film, perfectly captures what it means to be that devoted to a subject such as STAR WARS. The easy out, one which most directors would take, would be to present the characters as most people would perceive them—immature nerds, desperately in need of a life. Newman, however, allows us to discover who the characters are as people, to see them as true-to-life individuals, rather than as fanboys “geeking out” over a Sci-Fi movie. Speaking as someone who makes a regular habit of “geeking out”, this respect from a filmmaker is both rare and welcome.

The special features on the disc are nice, and as always, are appreciated. None stands out as exceptionally interesting, but taken as a whole they do add quite a bit to the package. I doubt that anyone buys a DVD for the special features; still, they are an attractive bonus.

You don’t need to be a STAR WARS fanboy to enjoy this movie; the traits of geekdom, whatever the inspiration, are universal. I myself, a lifelong Trekker, loved this movie despite its rather harsh treatment of my people. The reality of Linus’ cancer is present throughout the narrative, though not oppressively so. It never overshadows the reason for the trip, which is the quest to achieve the impossible; to get their “… Death Star …” in the words of Linus. Whether they reach this goal or not is the story, one that I can’t recommend highly enough.










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