Like nearly all the films distributed by Bob and Harvey Weinstein over the years, the story of "Fanboys" finally hitting screens is almost more fascinating than the film itself.
Scheduled for release more than 18 months ago, "Fanboys" has suffered through many postponed release dates. It's been reported that Harvey Weinstein called on "Drillbit Taylor" director Steven Brill to do drastic reshoots of director Kyle Newman's valentine to the "Star Wars" universe. (It's official: Harvey's losing it!) This riled up "Star Wars" diehards who began supporting the movie, as they threatened to boycott all Weinstein Co. movies, starting with "Superhero Movie" (yeah, I don't remember that movie even coming out, either), unless Newman's original cut was released.
After all the drama this little flick went through, "Fanboys" is finally here, and it appears to be untainted. The plot is simple: Former "Star Wars" geek Eric (Sam Huntington) gets back together with his fellow Jedi-loving pals -- estranged best friend Linus (Christopher Marquette), laptop-carrying Windows (Jay Baruchel) and Rush-worshipping Hutch (Dan Fogler, aka Jack Black 2.0) -- to embark on a road trip to steal a copy of "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" from George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch before it comes out. Even though he's being groomed to take over a chain of automotive dealerships from his father (a leathery Christopher McDonald), Eric takes the journey when he learns that Linus is dying from cancer and may not make it to the movie's release date.
Throwing terminal cancer in the mix (the thing Weinstein wanted cut from the movie) seems like such a phony ploy for sympathy that you almost expect it to be a red herring. But no, ol' dude is dying from cancer. However, "Fanboys" doesn't let that little plot point slow them down, as most of the movie has these guys getting into such cross-country shenanigans as getting in a rumble with Trekkies in William Shatner's hometown, stripping at a gay biker club and getting a beatdown from Ain't It Cool News svengali Harry Knowles (played here by Ethan Suplee, who actually makes Knowles appear slender).
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"Fanboys" is mostly likable geek trifle, with not only wink-wink cameos from "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" stars, but guest shots from some of Judd Apatow's repertory company. Kristen Bell also tags along as the guys' lone girl buddy. (Even when she's covered in a black wig and Diablo Cody's wardrobe, she's still looks too attractive to be hanging out with these dorks.)
The movie never goes all-out with its humor (unless jokes about having one testicle are just too much for you), yet it still tries to maintain a hollow sense of lowbrow rambunctiousness. (Newman's direction is cheaper and cruder than anything that happens in the story.) The movie's cheeky yet inoffensive attempts to be respectful to the "Star Wars" canon may leave retribution-craving viewers who had to sit through episodes I through III (not to mention those sicko completists who willingly saw "The Clone Wars") disappointed by the whole thing.
"Fanboys" may be geek cinema at its most affectionate, but the Force isn't even remotely with it.