Monday, May 24, 2010

Movie Review: Fanboys

A brief plot synopsis, in case you haven't heard of it (which you probably haven't): five friends in their 20s, all huge Star Wars fans, take a road trip from Ohio to San Francisco to break into Skywalker Ranch to steal a copy of The Phantom Menace before its release so one of their number, who has a terminal illness, can see it before he dies.

This is a comedy, by the way.

Those of you who know me personally or who have paid much attention to this blog know that I'm a huge Star Wars fan myself. I'm not one to dress up in costumes, but I do have a well-worn collection of Star Wars T-shirts. I was at the midnight showings of all three of the prequels. I have all the movies on DVD and watch them often. I have a decent collection of action figures, both from my childhood and, yes, more recently; I play the video games; I read the novels and comics. I have a Jeremy Bulloch-autographed photo of Boba Fett hanging on my office wall, a wedding gift from one of my best friends. In that sense, I'm the guy they were portraying in this film.

Now. All that said, I flatter myself that I'm also a fairly rounded, well-adjusted adult male. Yes, I love Star Wars. I also have other interests. I love sports, for instance. I have friends who are not Star Wars fans, either at all or at only a casual (read: healthy) level, and I can and do hold conversations with them. Some of these friends are female, and somehow I manage to refrain from devolving to a stuttering, slobbering mess in their presence. In fact, hey! I'm married, and yep, I've had sex. And you know what? I even kind of enjoy Star Trek, too. In all of these respects, I'm the complete antithesis of the guy they were portraying in this film.

I suppose I'm going into a bit of a rant here, but this constant depiction of fans of Star Wars (or Star Trek, or Lord of the Rings, or basically any kind of science fiction or fantasy) as one-dimensional and socially incompetent is really, really tiresome. Yes, I realize these people exist, and I can even see the humor in the stereotype, believe it or not. But at a certain point, enough is enough. I do have friends who are just as die-hard in their love for Star Wars as I am, and none of them are like this. This movie was written and made by Star Wars fans; I guess I just thought they'd be more true to their own. I almost couldn't get through the movie because I was so irritated by these characters.

Despite that, I decided to sit through the whole thing and try to let go of my irritation as much as possible. In all, I'm glad I did. The general asininity of the characters aside, the movie was obviously an homage to George Lucas and Star Wars and the spot they hold in our culture, which was pretty cool. It definitely enhanced my desire to see Skywalker Ranch at some point. It was fairly amusing. And once the comedy of the characters' personalities has been established and they were allowed to emerge as (at least mildly) real people, it turned into a fairly decent rumination on friendship and being yourself.

Oh, and Kristen Bell in the Slave Leia outfit? Two thumbs up from this reviewer.

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