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Fanboys (2008)

The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 5/19/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/25/2009

Do you remember the last time that the Weinsteins released a movie on time? Yeah, me neither. OK, I'm being facetious, but it's no secret that the two men who have a killer reputation for wheeling and dealing in Hollywood, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, have been known to let films set on the shelf for long periods of time -- sometimes years -- before they are released. Granted, most of these movies aren't great, but the majority feature actors of which you've heard and it's often a mystery as to why they take so long to see the light of day. The latest film to join this brethren is Fanboys.

Fanboys takes place in 1998 and focuses on a group friends who are rabid Star Wars fans. Linus (Chris Marquette), Hutch (Dan Fogler), and Windows (Jay Baruchel) have remained close since high school. They work together in a comic book store and, as the film opens, attend a party in full Star Wars costumes. They pal around with Zoe (Kristen Bell), a girl who's willing to put up with their geekiness. Eric (Sam Huntington) used to be a part of the group, but he gave up on his dream of being a comic book artist to work for his father in a car dealership. Eric arrives at the party, and the reunion is awkward and bitter. Linus, Hutch, and Windows are obsessed with the imminent opening of Star Wars - Episode 1, and Eric questions them on this. Later, Eric learns from Hutch and Windows that Linus has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The group of friends get together and decide to go on one final adventure; they are going to travel to the Lucas Ranch in California and steal the workprint of Episode 1. They hit the road and soon find that breaking into Lucasfilm will be the least of their problems.

(When Star Wars opened in 1977, few were surprised that it became a hit, as it combined an old-time space opera with the latest in cutting-edge special effects. But, how many would predicted that over 30 years later, the film series is just as popular as ever, and that millions are devoted followers. I think that I'm like most movie fans of my generation. When I was a kid, I liked Star Wars, but, as I got older, I became interested in other movies and left that world behind. Sure, as someone who was really into Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, I have a good working knowledge of those two films, but that's where it ends. Having found both Star Wars - Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and Star Wars - Episode 2: Attack of the Clones to be boring and ludicrous, I'm glad that I left that world far behind. Thus, I got the references in Fanboys, but I couldn't relate to the devotion in the film.)

It could easily be argued that Fanboys was made for and could only be enjoyed by other "fanboys". The movie contains wall-to-wall Star Wars references and nearly every scene contains a quiz or an argument about Star Wars trivia. There's also an entire subplot about how Star Wars fans hate Star Trek fans and vice-versa. So, this movie is only for die-hard Star Wars fans, right? No, I wouldn't say that, as Star Wars has become so ingrained in our national psyche that most viewers will get some of the references.

The whole Star Wars angle isn't what you should be worried about -- you should be worried about the fact that Fanboys simply isn't a very good movie. Take away all of the Star Wars stuff and what we simply have is a road-movie where a group of nerds taste freedom and adventure for the first time. The characters are both stereotypical and unlikable. Hutch is the "wildman" who also claims to be a ladies man. Windows is the geek with glasses who feels that no one will ever love him. Eric is the upstanding one who works for his Dad, but hates the corporate life. Nothing in this movie feels the least bit original and you should be able to make a checklist of the problems that the guys will encounter on the road; Biker bar? Check.; Bad girls? Check.; Run in with the law? Check. This is simply Road Trip with a dash of The Big Bang Theory.

But what about all of the Star Wars stuff? That's fun, right? Not really. It's ironic, bordering on criminal that Kevin Smith has a cameo in this film, as he's the master of doing Star Wars references right. His films have been littered with nods to the series, but while they are clearly coming from a man who worships the movies, they are done in a tongue-in-cheek way and they don't go overboard. Simply look at the debate between Dante and Randall in Clerks about The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. This scene is hilarious, not only because of their skewed real-world take on the movies, but because they are able to admit that the films have flaws. Fanboys, on the other hand, is like attending a Star Wars convention while being forced to watch a bad road movie. Other than the interesting cameos in the movie, unless you are a fanboy yourself, you should skip this one.

Fanboys locates the rebel base on DVD courtesy of The Weistein Company Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a mild amount of grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. There is some mild artifacting at times, but otherwise the transfer is fine. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a fairly good track, as we get nice stereo effects and some notably good surround sound effects at times. The car-chase scene is the epitome of this, as sound moves from one side of the screen to the other, while sirens fill the rear speakers.

The Fanboys DVD has several extras, which are kicked off by an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Kyle Newman, actor Dan Fogler, Writer Ernie Cline, actress Kristen Bell, actor Sam Huntington, and Writer Adam F. Goldberg. This is a pretty good commentary, as the group shares many anecdotes about each scene. They talk about the wardrobe, the story, and the locations, while sharing details about what was happening on the set. The DVD contains 6 DELETED SCENES which run about 8 minutes. Most of these are minor, but there's one key scene which plays the same way, but has a different cameo appearance. It would have been nice if they had told us what the change took place. "The Truth About Fanboys" (6 minutes) is a brief featurette which plays more like an electronic press kit than a "making of". "Star Wars Parallel" (5 minutes) has the actors discussing the Star Wars references in the film and how each character resembles a character from the series. "4 Fanboys & 1 Fangirl" (9 minutes) has the five main actors discussing their characters and describing one another. "The Choreography" (4 minutes) examines the scene where the guys are forced to dance. "Disturbances in the Force, A Series of Webisodes" (12 minutes) contains 7 segments which offer on-set footage of the film in production.

On July 27, 2010, The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment brought Fanboys to Blu-ray Disc.  The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps.  The image is sharp and clear, but there is a noticeable sheen of grain on the picture during daytime scenes.  The colors look good, but the picture is a bit dark, especially given the fact that most movies look unnaturally bright on Blu-ray.  The image does have a nice amount of detail and we can make out textures on surfaces.  The depth is fairly good as well.  The Disc contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps.  The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects.  The stereo effects are notably good and show nice separation.  The surround sound effects are well done, most notably from musical cues and any shot which involves the van driving past.  Subwoofer effects kick in whenever the movie impersonates one of the low-tone sound effects from Star Wars.

The Blu-ray Disc contains three extras which weren't present on the DVD release.  "Fanboys Goes Global" (6 minutes) is a conversation with Director Kyle Newman and Producer Matthew Perniciaro, who discuss how the project came together and the way in which the film was received by audiences.  "Fanboys, The Comic Book" allows viewers to go inside the publication and read it, page-by-page.  "Fanboys, The Gallery" contains posters, production stills, and concept art.

Review by Mike Long.  Copyright 2009/2010.