These ain't the dorks you're lookin' for. Long delayed, often debated, Fanboys has a behind-the-scenes backstory more intriguing than anything that ended up onscreen. Shot more than three years ago, this modestly budgeted geek-fest went through focus-group testing hell, endless revisions, reshootings, recuttings, and was poised to open more times than a frat house refrigerator after midnight. So what's funny is the movie itself is so muddled it's hard to tell what all the damn fuss was about.
Fanboys is nothing more than a typical dude-raunchy road farce stuck in a nerdy candy shell, but with a saccharine aftertaste. The "plot" follows a crew of Ohio megageeks circa 1998, on a mission to drive cross-country and break in to George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch compound, in order to steal an advance print of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Why can't they simply pitch a tent and wait out the six months till opening with the rest of the gorks? Because one of them is terminally ill, a comedy-stopping subplot that caused the studio infighting and so much Internet horseshit.
Oh, if only such chatter led to something actually funny and less cloying, a flick that kicks Boba Fett jokes because it wants to, not 'cause it must to justify its existence. It feels like a bad, third-gen Xerox of a Kevin Smith script (note: the director pops in for a filthy cameo that's one of the funniest bits here). Actually, the movie's stocked with cameos, some too good to spoil, some simply there to rile up the faithful with jolts of recognition. Equally cheap giggles are squeezed out of the endless Star Trek vs. Star Wars feud, as boys engage in slap fights with a crew of Trekkies, led by pimple-riddled Seth Rogen.
The movie's geek squad does sport charmers, computer brainiac Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder) has a cutely improbable romance with hottie (and Huntington Woods native) Kristen Bell (Heroes), who shows sass as the cool-girl sidekick, before donning the inevitable gilded Leia bikini. Not so charming is dollar-store Jack Black Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury), a hyper-annoying creep who's the Jar Jar Binks of fat party animals. You wish Fogler's role was handed to a stronger talent such as Jonah Hill, or Danny McBride, until McBride himself shows up and lays a cameo the size of Bantha turd.
The unspoken 800-pound Wookie here is used as a final punch line, but let's hope not it's not the setup for a sequel.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.