- on Friday, 30 July 2010 10:18
- by Loron Hays
Finally. The George Lucas-approved, critic-hated little movie about five supremely geeked-out friends on a road trip to Skywalker Ranch to steal the raw cut of The Phantom Menace finds itself on Blu-ray this July. Forever pushed back on its release by a studio who kept throwing money at it and confounding audiences and its original writer, Ernest Cline, with two different versions – one involving Cline’s cancer subplot and the other without – Fanboys ignites its lightsaber and swings away, operating dually as homage to everything geek and awesomely sci-fi and as irreverent parody that recreates the entire plot of Star Wars in a modern-day setting.
The year is 1998 and some high school friends are reuniting at a Halloween party. Eric Bottler (Sam Huntington) discovers that Linus (Chris Marquette), Hutch (Dan Fogler), Windows (Jay Baruchel) and Zoe (Kristen Bell), his friends from high school, haven’t really changed at all. They still celebrate their collective nerdom with wild imagination and fanciful language. Hutch has his Rush t-shirts. Linus embraces his inner Jedi. Windows celebrates his eyeglasses thick enough to melt microwaves. Zoe, well, she just tolerates it while keeping her indie cool. Bottler has changed, though. He’s matured. He put away his comic drawings and Star Wars t-shirts in favor of a paying job at his father’s used car lot.
Eric chastises his friends for their unchanging ways, but can’t help but want to help celebrate the impending release of The Phantom Menace with his friends once it is revealed that Linus has cancer with only four months to live. His friends still like him. They still want to hang out with him – even if he thinks he is better off without them. In fact, they are cooking up a road trip that will take them from their home to the fictional birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk, then to Texas, and finally to California – all in an effort to celebrate the glory of Star Wars and preserve their friendship.
That’s not say the five friends won’t be tested along the way. There are unending hijinks against the Trekkies they seek to destory, close calls with policemen, ten-year-old girls, high-dollar escorts, and Skywalker Ranch security. With hilarious cameos from Seth Rogen, Danny Trejo, Allie Grant, Ethan Suplee (as Harry Knowles), Danny McBride, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Jaime King, Will Forte, Craig Robinson, Carrie Fischer, Billy Dee Williams, and William Shatner, Fanboys has everyone but George Lucas throwing in a little screentime fun for the better of the road trip.
Yes, Fanboys, directed by Kyle Newman, is another in a long line of teenage road movies. Let’s face it, the road trip genre has been done to death and each one seems a little more stale than the previous one and not quite as funny. Yet, Fanboys rises to the top not because of its irreverence for adults or rules, but because of its celebration and semi-believable recognition of the geek in all of us. Heartfelt without being sentimental and hysterically spot-on – leaving the best line of the movie for the very end (because we all know The Phantom Menace really does suck) – without being overly reverent toward its inspiration.
Fun in all the right places and, at times, clever as hell, Fanboys punches the warp drive and never takes a galactic pause to look at its own streak against the stars.
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Language and Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1
The Blu-ray’s AVC encoded 1080p image (with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio) isn’t the best simply because, let’s face it, this movie really didn’t have a budget. It’s well-shot, just a little soft in places where most transfers of Hollywood affairs are a little sharper. The contrast is little off, but skin tones are good and, overall, the saturation is mostly appealing.
Surround activity is not the best with this sonic soundscape. It does support a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, but I found myself having to crank the notches in order for the dialogue to become less muddied by the sound effects.
French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (less)
- Feature Length Commentary track: The principal cast, director Newman, and the writers reunite to dish it out and discuss the movie. Quite fun, but very, very loud.
The featurettes are of SD quality, but there are a lot for its cult following to chew over. They are as follows:
- Introduction with Newman and producer Matthew Perniciaro: Optional introduction to the movie and completely void of any reason.
- Fanboys Goes Global (6:12): Newman and Perniciaro discuss getting wind of the film on Ain't It Cool news and how the project happened.
- Star Wars Parallel (5:18): proof of the intention to align the story and its characters to that of Lucas’ original Space Opera.
- 4Fanboys and 1 Fangirl (8:49): More interviews of the stars talking about their characters and Newman’s casting of them.
- The Choreography (3:40): Details the choreography of the gay biker bar dance number.
- Disturbances in the Force (11:38): A compilation of seven internet webisodes all promoting the film.
Deleted Scenes (7:49): Six scenes in all, including an extended scene with Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes doing Clerks all over again.
The Truth About Fanboys (5:49): an EPK with the theatrical trailer broken up with interview segments.
Number of Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)