FANBOYS lives and dies on its portrayal of nerd stereotypes and while the four main characters are walking clichés in most senses, it’s a positive and loving depiction rather than a mocking one. I think Star Wars fans will enjoy this; there’s a thousand lines and references from the Original Trilogy that might recall their own conversations. It’s a little dumbed down for a broader audiences (like having to explain what calling “Chewie” in the car means) but overall I think it’s something amateur Jedis will connect with. (And plenty of Star Trek bashing to go with it.) I’m not really a HUGE Star Wars geek myself, but there’s still a general nerdiness to enjoy here, from comic books to Rush and THE ROCKETEER to Michael Bay. Their passion put a smile on my face for most of the running time and you can tell FANBOYS was a labor of love for writer Ernie Cline and director Kyle Newman.
The other big aspect of FANBOYS is pure luck, as evidenced in the cast of lesser known actors who are now actual names. The main characters are played by Kristen Bell (as the hottest girl nerd you’ll ever see), Jay Baruchel (KNOCKED UP, SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE), Sam Huntington (SUPERMAN RETURNS, JUNGLE 2 JUNGLE), Dan Fogler (BALLS OF FURY) and Chris Marquette (Eli from GIRL NEXT DOOR). The gang has great chemistry, which helps immensely. The film also sports a crazy amount of cameos including Christopher McDonald, Seth Rogen (playing two roles), Danny McBride, Danny Trejo, Billy Dee Williams, William Shatner, Carrie Fisher, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes (and the guy from CLERKS II’s donkey show), Will Forte, Craig Robinson and Ethan Suplee as Harry Knowles, no less. It turns in to a little bit of “Hey, look who it is!” spectacle, but for a road trip movie it works.
The film is lighthearted fun, which is surprising given the seriousness of the cancer subplot. That whole story point feels a little underwhelming and like a missed opportunity, which I’m guessing is a result of all the studio tinkering. Linus’ situation is just kind of there and not mined for any real emotional depth until the end (in a fairly cheesy way). And although the quality of EPISODE I is slyly referenced, it still eats away at the back of your mind, knowing that what the group has been working so hard for is going to be met with disappointment. Although, as the lesson learned, I supposed the journey is more important than the final outcome. Unless that outcome involves Jar Jar Binks.
Intro by director Kyle Newman and producer Matthew Perniciaro: Newman says a quick piece about the film’s journey to Blu Ray while his cohort just sits there.
Commentary by Newman, writers Adam Goldberg and Ernest Cline, and actors Dan Fogler, Kristen Bell, and Sam Huntington: Given the actors and the nerdy inclinations of the crew present, this is a pretty fun commentary to listen to. It’s light and only hints at some of the reshoots and post-production ish, but everyone clearly had a good time making the movie and are proud of it, which translates well with all the joking and wisecracks.
Deleted Scenes: Six, the only worthwhile one being an extended take of Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes’ cameo. Given all the reshoots and stuff, you’d expect a lot more than this.
The Truth About FANBOYS: A quick, 5-minute BTS featurette that offers no real “truth,” just the usual lighthearted press BS.
STAR WARS Parallel: A brief rundown of some of the similarities and references between the Original Trilogy and FANBOYS. Real fans will not need this.
4 Fanboys & 1 Fangirl: Short character/actor summaries.
The Choreography: A look at the shooting of the “Man-tina” scene.
Disturbances In the Force: A series of webisodes clocking in at over 10 minutes. Nothing majorly cool, buy a lot less stiff than the other BTS material.
FANBOYS Goes Global: The director and producer discuss how the film receiving support from online sites like Ain’t It Cool News impacted the production process. A pretty interesting feature.
A Digital Comic Book and Gallery is also included.
Extra Tidbit: Director Kyle Newman is married to Jaime King, the lucky bastard.