Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summer of Star Wars: Fanboys

Directed by Kyle Newman and screenplay by Ernest Cline and Adam F. Goldberg from a story by Cline and Dan Pulick, Fanboys is the story of a group of friends who go on a road trip from Ohio to California to try and watch a rough version of The Phantom Menace to fulfill a dying friend’s wish. The film is an exploration into the world of geek culture in the late 1990s where friends who are Star Wars fans try to break into Skywalker Ranch as they would contend with all sorts of people including Trekkies. Starring Sam Huntington, Dan Fogler, Christopher Marquette, Jay Baruchel, Kristen Bell, and Seth Rogen. Fanboys is a silly but fun film from Kyle Newman.

Set in late 1998, the film revolves a group of friends who go on a road trip to see a rough cut of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace for a friend who is dying of a terminal illness. Though it is a simple story involving four guys who love Star Wars, it is a film where these guys decide to embark on an adventure for their friend while they cope with the expectations of growing up as one of them is trying to mend fences with his ailing friend. The film’s script does play into a traditional structure where its first act is about the motivations for this road trip and its planning as its second act is about the trip where hilarity ensues where the gang decide to upset a group of Star Trek fans that nearly goes out of control. The trip would also involve numerous references to the world of geek culture and other things as it plays into a world that is just about to be on the cusp of the mainstream. Though some aspects of the script involving some of its characters aren’t that great as well as some lame jokes. The story is still engaging and does get it point across where it is thoroughly entertaining.

Kyle Newman’s direction is quite simple where he pays tribute to not just the Star Wars franchise but also the world of geek culture from comic book stores to sci-fi conventions. Shot on various locations, the film does have the feel of a road comedy fused in with some low-brow humor as Newman keeps many of the compositions simple while putting in as many references to Star Wars just as a tongue-in-cheek tribute that fans of the franchise will know. Newman’s usage of wide shots are evident in many of the road scenes as well a few location spots while he would create framing devices that are similar to what is evident in Star Wars with some moments that includes a Mexican standoff involving memorabilia of films created by George Lucas. All of which plays into how much these geeks have a love for not just this franchise but also what it means to them as friends where they would help a dying friend fulfill a final wish. Overall, Newman creates a very funny and witty comedy about a group of geeks trying to go see a rough cut of The Phantom Menace and piss off some Trekkies.

Cinematographer Lukas Ettin does nice work with the cinematography from the interior look of some of the places such as a bar the guys go to as well as the interiors of Skywalker Ranch. Editors James Thomas and Seth Flaun do excellent work with the editing as it features some transition wipes as well as some rhythmic cutting for the action and comedic moments. Production designer Cory Lorenzen and set decorator Kimberly Wannop do fantastic work with the look of some of the places the characters go to including the Skywalker Ranch where the gang sees all of the film memorabilia. Costume designer Johanna Argan does terrific work with the costumes as most of it is casual with the exception of the Star Wars and Star Trek costumes.

Visual effects supervisors David A. Davidson and Kevin O’Neill do superb work with the visual effects for a sequence where one of the characters get stoned as well as moments that serve as a homage to Star Wars. Sound designer David Acord, with sound editors Michael Kirschberger and Matthew Wood, does brilliant work with the sound in the sound effects for some of the objects the characters have as well as effects that pay homage to Star Wars. The film’s music by Mark Mothersbaugh is wonderful as it‘s a mixture of kitsch jazz with some orchestral bombast to play into the world of sci-fi while music supervisor Michelle Kuznetsky creates a soundtrack filled with music from the late 90s such as Spacehog, the Presidents of the United States of America, Tag Team, Chumbawumba, Black Sheep, Liz Phair, Remy Zero, the Smashing Pumpkins, and the Dandy Warhols plus cuts from John Williams, Menudo, and Rush.

The casting by Anne McCarthy and Jay Scully is amazing as it’s filled with many cameo appearances from such character actors, sci-fi icons, and indie stars like Lou Taylor Pucci and Noah Segan as a couple of Boba Fett fans, Jaime King and Pell James as a couple of escorts, Joe Lo Truglio as a jailhouse cop, Danny Trejo as a mysterious man known as the Chief, Will Forte and Craig Robinson as a couple of Skywalker ranch security guards, and Ray Park as another Skywalker ranch security guard who says a line in reference to a Star Wars character he plays. Other notable small roles include Ethan Suplee as the famed film buff Harry Knowles, David Denham as Eric’s older brother Chaz, and Christopher McDonald as Eric’s father Big Chuck. In a trio of roles, Seth Rogen plays an alien in a surreal scene, a nerdy Trekkie who calls Han Solo a bitch, and a pimp named Roach who is a Star Wars fan.

Kristen Bell is fantastic as Zoe as a friend of the gang who later joins them on the trip as she is lone girl who is quite tough and just as geeky in her love of comics and sci-fi. Jay Baruchel is excellent as Windows as a nerd who has fallen for a mysterious person online as he is clueless about women. Dan Fogler is superb as Hutch as a brash fan who likes to be perverse and crass in everything he does. Christopher Marquette is brilliant as Linus as the guy suffering from cancer as he deals with his illness as he is eager to see The Phantom Menace before its release. Finally, there’s Sam Huntington in a remarkable performance as Eric as the mature one of the group who tries to mend his friendship with Linus after a falling out as he copes with his own attempts to grow up despite his talent in creating his own comic figures.

Fanboys is a pretty good film from Kyle Newman. With an excellent cast and an engaging premise, the film is definitely something sci-fi geeks will definitely relate to as well as get a chance to laugh at how ridiculous fan boy obsessions are. In the end, Fanboys is a superb film from Kyle Newman.

Star Wars Films: Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back - Return of the Jedi - The Phantom Menace - Attack of the Clones - Revenge of the Sith - The Force Awakens - The Last Jedi - The Rise of Skywalker

Related: The Star Wars Holiday Special - Caravan of Courage - The Battle for Endor - The Clone Wars - The People vs. George Lucas

Star Wars Anthology Films: Rogue One - Solo: A Star Wars Story - (Untitled Star Wars Anthology Film)

George Lucas Films: THX 1138 - (American Graffiti)

© thevoid99 2015


Brittani Burnham said...

I'm loving your Star Wars posts. I liked this film well enough. I think my expectations were a bit too high because I had to wait so long to see it, but still a good watch.

thevoid99 said...

Thanks. It's not a great film but I do think it is funny as I loved some of the cameos (some of which I didn't want to mention).

Besides, Star Wars and Star Trek fans should band together against the real enemy, YA film adaptations. They're lame as fuck.

Anonymous said...

I forgot this existed. I don't care about STar Wars but I'll watch Baruchel all day long.

thevoid99 said...'s pretty funny in this. Especially when he learns who his online crush is.