“A short time ago in a galaxy not so far, far away…
The year is 1998 and it is a period of galactic civil war. Scratch that. There is no civil war. That would be crazy! However, the past 15 years have been a dark time for Star Wars fans. But there is hope. A new Star Wars film is on the horizon. In 199 days, 34 hours, 33 minutes and 28 seconds the most anticipated movie of all time will be released. In the remote state of Ohio, two best friends and lifelong Star Wars fans have drifted apart. Little do they know that on Halloween Night, their paths will cross again.”
Too many cooks can spoil the broth. That seems to be the lesson you’ll find here in Fan Boys. The production was not a peaceful one. That civil war the opening crawl referred to might as well have been said of the production of this movie. Spoofs of science fiction icons are always a tricky course to navigate to begin with. At what point do the inside jokes and references become exclusive and make the film strictly an insider film? It’s been done with Star Trek a few times and with mixed results. While Kyle Newman is still the credited director, there were plenty of segments that were added to the film that he was not on board with. The story was written and often rewritten to the point that any of the movie’s spontaneity is out the window. The movie certainly exhibits the stress fractures of the behind the scenes turmoil. It’s a miracle that the movie even made it to its limited box office release at all.
We have a group of Star Wars fans who have never grown up or gotten a life, all except for Eric (Huntington) who works at his father’s car dealership. He’s just about to take over the whole car empire, when he’s thrown into the evil empire of Lord Vader once again after reuniting with his old group at a party. He discovers that one of the old nerds, Linus (Marquette) is dying of cancer. He likely won’t live long enough to see the first of the new Star Wars films. His friends Windows (Bareuchel) and Hutch (Fogler) intend to get him out to Skywalker Ranch and break into to the home of George Lucas, where they intend to get a copy of the film and watch it. Eric agrees to join in because he feels sorry that he “abandoned” the group to advance his life while they’re still living in their parents’ basements and living and breathing Star Wars. The film becomes a road trip as the friends work their way across the country to get Linus to Skywalker Ranch.
The movie plays out as the silly reference festival that you would expect. One of the bones of contention in the production turmoil was the need to have one of the characters dying of cancer. It creates a rather super serious blanket over what is essentially a very frivolous and corny movie. It would have been far better if they were on some kind of Rebel Forces Mission, ala The Blues Brother’s mission from God. Perhaps one of them could have had a dream that one of the Star Wars characters needed them to check out the movie. Instead it kind of plays as a downer against what is otherwise a farce. It’s all typical road movie clichés with a ton of Star Wars references. Both Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher have small parts but do not play themselves. The best cameo comes from William Shatner, who does play himself. It appears that Shat is the guys’ contact who supplies them with all that they need to infiltrate Lucasland. The characters are all interchangeable with the exception of Kristen Bell who stands out from the crowd in an underused role.
Fan Boys is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The production values are pretty poor here. Everything about this film screams average. Colors look bland, and black levels are barely average. For some reason the movie looks much older than it really is. The subject matter always appeared off to me because this looks like a 1970’s television film. There are also compression artifact and print flaws to contend with.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track delivers a minimum amount of fuss. There are some rather sweet Star Wars sound elements that pop up from time to time and are handled well in the movie. It’s all really dialog driven, so up front is where 90% of this film lives.
There is an Audio Commentary provided by various cast and crew. They talk about the turmoil but remain quite lighthearted about the whole thing. Mostly they had some fun here.
Deleted Scenes: (7:51) There are 6 with a handy play all option. The best is an alternative scene where William Katt plays the Lucas security leader.
The Truth About Fan Boys: (5:50) This is really a trailer with film and interview clips. Strictly a promo fluff piece. If you were expecting some insider info about the problems, forget it.
Star Wars Parallel: (5:19) Cast and crew talk about how the film follows some Star Wars story plot points. They talk about which Star Wars character their character really is.
4 Fan Boys And 1 Fan Girl: (8:49) A feature on the cast.
The Choreography (3:41) A breakdown of the gay biker club scene.
A Disturbance In The Force: (11:40) A collection of webisodes on production of the film. There is a play all option.
Except for a throwaway line at the end of the movie, there isn’t much said about how much the new Star Wars film disappointed the fans. It reminds me a little of the South Park episode that has the boys also breaking into Lucas’s office. Hard core fans will just love the references, while even casual fans will find the whole thing a bit empty. Somewhere a clever idea got lost with too many people trying to control it. Whatever this film was once going to be, they “bailed on the plan”.