February 6, 2009 / 3:27 AM / in 9 years

"Fanboys" insults target audience

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "Fanboys" is a road-trip comedy that concerns four geeks and a girl who never grew out of their adolescent adoration of the "Star Wars" saga.

Even if one shares that obsession, the group's witless antics and juvenile mentalities grow wearying before bags are packed.

This long-delayed Weinstein Co. release, which opens in about 40 theaters on Friday, will appeal to similar fanatics and perhaps a few young people channeling their own parents' mania. Given how insultingly fanboys are portrayed, though, even the fan base could be put off. Box office looks unpromising.

It's 1998, and George Lucas is about to unleash the first film of his second "Star Wars" trilogy, "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace." So the four guys -- the girl follows later -- trek cross-country to break into Lucas' Skywalker Ranch and watch the film before its release.

Writers Ernest Cline and Adam F. Goldberg attempt to give the foolishness a serious purpose by bestowing terminal cancer on one character, which motivates the desperate need for him to see the new movie before he dies. But this only adds to the film's tone problems.

The cancer plot simply doesn't fit such a silly, sloppy comedy. Nor does Christopher Marquette's Linus seem the least bit sick. In a word, it's bogus.

At least everyone appears set to make money from their fanboy obsessions. Eric (Sam Huntington) is a talented cartoonist, but his dad means for him to inherit the family car business. The obnoxious and hairy Hutch (Dan Fogler) and socially backward Windows (Jay Baruchel) run a fanboy shop along with female fanboy Zoe (Kristen Bell, looking very out of place).

The group makes a few detours from Ohio to Northern California. They get into a fight with "Star Trek" fans and a showdown in a biker bar, do heavy drugs with an Indian shaman, have an interlude in Vegas with hookers and William Shatner -- better not to ask -- and a run-in with police in desert. They then stage a "break-in" at Skywalker Ranch in which it is imagined that Jedi warriors guard the premises.

Kyle Newman's scattershot direction emphasizes a frantic pace at all costs. However much one would like to view this as a tribute to the power of certain films on popular culture, he and his writers view such worship as inane bordering on mental instability. Some tribute.

Then again, this film has so many versions that who knows what originally was intended? Last year when Harvey Weinstein tried to remove the cancer plot after the film reportedly tested poorly, a "Stop Darth Weinstein" campaign was waged on the Internet by die-hard "Star Wars" fans. The fans and director won that battle, and this agreed-upon version is the result. Whatever the film garnered in the way of publicity, though, is more than diminished by the erratic filmmaking.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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