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Probably one of the most appealing aspects of the first Star Wars (Episode IV for all you purists out there) was the story of a rag tag band of rebels facing impossible odds and taking on an empire. Friendships were born, battles were fought, and adventure was had by all. With the new comedy Fanboys, you get the feeling that similar challenges faced the cast and crew, and that they too had an empire opposing them and perhaps a, “Deathstar” to blow up.

Filmed for a modest 3.8 million dollars, Fanboys is an indie film love letter to the Star Wars franchise and more importantly its fans. Set in 1998, six months before the release of the first new Star Wars film in over 15 years, Fanboys is the story of five Star Wars loving friends who decide to break into Skywalker Ranch to steal a copy of the new film before it premieres.

It’s any Lucasfilm fan’s ultimate quest really, the Fort Knox or the Holy Grail of nerditude – next to impossible and nothing but a dream. But for Eric, Hutch and Windows, it was something they had to do. Not for the glory of all geeks, but for their good friend Linus.

You see, Linus has cancer and might not live long enough to see The Phantom Menace when it debuts later that year. So his life-long friends dust off a childhood plot to cross the country and storm the halls of all things George Lucas.

It’s a plausible motivator for a road movie but maybe too touchy a subject for a comedy. And it almost didn’t make it into the final cut.

It seems that the powers that be at the Weinstein Company tried to remove the cancer subplot from the film because they weren’t sure they could market it as a comedy. The movie’s release became delayed, a different version was proposed and the film's destiny became questionable.

But after much perseverance from director Kyle Newman and crew and a potential boycott from Star Wars fan club The 501st, the Weinstein Company kept the cancer plotline in the film and Fanboys finally has a release.

In a way, Newman and his rebels scored their first victory over the evil empire. So to speak…

It’s a good thing too, because besides the loads of Star Wars references and inside jokes, Fanboys is a movie with heart. By keeping the cancer plot line, the film is more than just a low brow road pic. It’s a film about friendship and the realities of a fragile life and how sometimes it's not about the successful career you have but the relationships and passions we have that keep us feeling alive.

And it’s also about Star Wars. Lots and lots of Star Wars.

From Hutch’s (Dan Fogler, Balls of Fury) decked out Millennium Falcon’esque van, to Linus’s (Chris Marquette, Alpha Dog) room full of collectables, Fanboys is all Star
all the time. Those of you familiar with your Star Wars dialogue won’t need to strain hard to hear some of the most classic movie lines used cleverly throughout the film.

For the fans of the franchise, Fanboys is a regular Where’s Waldo for Star Wars references. Whether it be a cameo from a familiar face to something as unnoticeable as a sound effect, this movie is start to finish Star Wars. Fans will appreciate this attention to detail and hopefully appreciate all the nods to their childhood fantasies.

Non-fans and novices need not worry, though, as Fanboys has something for everyone. At its core, it's a buddy picture with a believable and hilarious cast. Sam Huntington (Eric) plays a great skeptic and turns in a really mature performance that holds the sometimes goofiness of the film in place. Marquette (Linus) brings the hardcore fan passion to light and is a perfect believer to Eric’s skeptic. Fogler (Hutch) and Jay Baruchel (Windows) add the comic relief as the horn dog and the oblivious romeo to round out the film. When it comes down to it, we believe these are life long friends and that when push comes to shove, they’d do anything for each other.

Fanboys pokes fun at all sides of fandom and even addresses the eternal conflict between Star Wars fans and another popular Sci-Fi franchise’s fan base -The Trekkies. Led by Admiral Seasholtz (the multi-faceted Seth Rogen) the Trekkers, as they like to be called, get into a beef with our Fanboys, and we soon find out what happens when the two biggest franchises in Sci-Fi history fight for dominance.

Where Fanboys fails is mainly the fault of its budget. A lot of scenes feel forced or rushed. Some of the beats of the film feel misplaced and sometimes even missing completely. A lot of this comes from the certain time constraints this production had and the lack of budget to take more than three or four takes for a scene. But to grade down for these flaws would only be nitpicking. To enjoy Fanboys, it has to be appreciated for what it is, a nice little indie film about Star Wars fans.

Overall, Fanboys is a treat for anyone who’s ever fell in love with that Galaxy, Far, Far Away. It’s also a fun movie for those who can appreciate inside jokes and nods to the source material.

At this point, it remains to be seen if director Kyle Newman and his crew of rebels blew up their Deathstar just yet because a lot of that depends on you and all the other real fanboys out there to get out there and support this movie. And I’m sure if Princess Leia were here you know she’d be asking for your help. Because come on, fanboys, say it with me… “You’re our only hope.”

Lon Lopez

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