I mentioned before that the guys who do Robot Chicken get it when it comes to Star Wars because they’re obvious fanboys. Well, wait till I tell you about the 2009 movie Fanboys…
Unlike the Big Bang Theory which just says something that nerds do, adds an unnecessary laugh track, and calls it comedy, Fanboys, I think, was made by people who actually cared about what they were writing about. Which isn’t to say that the writers of the Big Bang Theory don’t care about what they write, but the show is obviously written by people looking at a culture from the outside (I should point out I actually enjoy that show, I just… have a few issues with it).
So, Fanboys. The title should give it away. A group of friends and hardcore Star Wars fans reunite in late 1998 and hatch a plan to drive from Ohio to California in the hopes of stealing an early copy of the Phantom Menace and watching it.
The reason for doing so goes far beyond the desire for an early screening as one of them is dying of cancer and isn’t going to live to see the release of the film.
So they make their way across America, encountering their Star Trek counterparts in Riverside, Iowa (the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk), an awkward experience at a roadside bar in the desert, and an unfortunate encounter with a few unexpected Star Wars fans in Texas.
The film experienced a turbulent production with a lot of re-editing done by another director who was bought in by the studio to remove the cancer storyline. It reportedly became a dumb, sex-joke movie that was pointless and stupid. Steven Brill, the director who had been bought in to do the reshoots, got a lot of bad press when a correspondence of his became public.
One profanity-laden message was directed towards a particular fan who he called ‘dumb’ and even threatened to hunt them down. Kyle Newman, the original director condemned his behaviour. In the end, despite all the problems, the film eventually made it to the screen. Well, some screens. It wasn’t too widely distributed and didn’t even break a million in the box office.
The film isn’t about Star Wars, not really. It’s about loving something so much that it gives your life meaning and leads you to form lasting bonds with people who love it just as much as you do. And when faced with your own mortality, you see what really matters.
In the end, the Star Wars films are just films, but only to some people. To others (myself included) they are so much more and Fanboys captures that. I’ll admit I’m repeating sentiments from the film but sue me, they were on point and I’m using them. That’s why Fanboys is included in my viewing list.
The Family Guy and Robot Chicken parodies get you in the mood for Star Wars, but this one gets you into the spirit of it. The sense of camaraderie felt when surrounded by dozens or even hundreds of nerds who understand every reference you make, and who are dressed up in costume just as you are. I know that feeling and it’s a vivid sense of completely belonging where you are, and that the people you are surrounded by understand you. That’s what I get from Fanboys.
There are further themes about mortality and I’m doing the film a huge injustice by not going more into it but right now I’m here to talk about Star Wars, so I apologise for glossing over such a huge part of the movie.
By the way – This film is filled with cameos of famous nerds including a few original Star Wars actors so be on the lookout. I think my favourite is Seth Rogen playing both a Star Trek fanboy, and a violent Star Wars obsessed L.A. pimp. Have fun with that.
– Tim Baker