Fanboys (Kyle Newman, 2009)
Seeing Fanboys at the Uptown Birmingham 8 was like returning to the scene of the crime. That's where I saw The Phantom Menace on opening day back in 1998. No, I didn't camp out. There were no pup tents set up on the side of Old Woodward.
If you've ever seen a road comedy movie, then you've seen Fanboys. It takes the lesser parts of Todd Phillips's Road Trip and Blair Hayes's Bubble Boy mixed with Peter Haynes's 2003 short film Fanboys which shares the same name and a similar plot.
Feeling like it was written over a drunken weekend, Fanboys follows a paint by numbers plot about four friends who vow to make a trek from Ohio to the Skywalker Ranch to steal a copy of The Phantom Menace as one of them, Linus (Chris Marquette), has terminal cancer. Along the way they square off against Trekkies (who apparently don't get along with Star Wars fans, and vice versa -- news to me), eat peyote with Danny Trejo (a regular feature of road trip films), and run into a host of actors making less-than-subtle cameos (Ethan Suplee, Carrie Fisher, William Shatner, etc).
As to be expected, the dialog is laden with Star Wars references, though Dutch (Dan Fogler) doesn't limit himself to just the trilogy; he's all over the map with pop culture catchphrases ("Wonder Twin powers, activate!"). This and the Star Wars sound effects can get a bit tiresome and the relationship between Linus and bland best pal Eric (Sam Huntington) can get a bit winsome.
Eric is our milquetoast protagonist, the kind of lame asshole that often has to rediscover what's important in life in these kinds of movies. Yet, Eric's relationship with his car salesman dad (Christopher McDonald) and brother (David Denman) just kind of fade into the background, only popping up to move the story along. Same goes for the few appearances of Zoe (Kristen Bell) the too-hot geek girl who's got a thing for fourth friend Windows (Jay Baruchel). I'm not sure if Windows's nickname is a reference to the operating system or to the character from John Carpenter's The Thing.
While the irony of the situation -- that these guys are making such efforts to see a film that will disappoint them beyond measure -- isn't lost on film (Seth Rogen shows off his sweet Anakin Skywalker and Jar Jar Binks back tattoo) but the final message that the real magic of Star Wars was the heart that the original films despite the "bad" special effects and puppets (rather than CGI abominations) gets lost in the static.