Monday, July 22, 2013

Star Wars Venerated: Fanboys

MIKE SAYS Fanboys is one of those films that once made, almost never got released.  Despite fan interest, actor support, and the gaining popularity of some of the actors (namely Seth Rogen and Kristen Bell), the studio was reluctant to release the film, though they kept spending money on it: Re-shoots, rewrites, occasional promotional material.  So fraught with uncertainty was the studio that when they finally decided to release the film to DVD, there was less than a month from the decision to the release itself!

When it finally was released, I excitedly bought, watched, and really enjoyed it.  Are there things about the film that are a little odd?  Yes.  Could the film have been stronger? Definitely.  But in the end, the film succeeds in showing us exactly what it set out to do:  How the love of fiction can either hold us back, or become something that elevates us and helps us to achieve our goals.

There are some things about the film that are a little narrow in terms of its target audience: The Star Wars/Star Trek battle is one of those.  I've been a Geek all my life, and I've seen little evidence of this rivalry other than the obvious "which studio wants to make more money" type of thing.  In my way of thinking, the two franchises are barely comparable; while both are technically sci-fi shows, Star Wars is a fantasy that can take place in any setting, while Trek is ABOUT our relationship with technology.

But Fanboy logic isn't always that, well, logical.  What the film does best, for me, is showing the interaction of a group of guys that all enjoy the same thing, probably because the real world doesn't make a whole lot of sense to them.  Having a film that sees the world through their eyes, and taking a journey for the thing they love is awesome, and touching, even if it may be played a little weirdly at times.

There is a lot of irony in the film, though this is underplayed much more than I expected.  While I was pretty excited about The Phantom Menace when it came out, the years have provided perspective and insight, and there's little denying that it's a very, very badly made film.  Instead of focusing on that, however, Fanboys focuses on the hope that each fan had for the film, and the potential they saw.  While the quality of the final product is commented and foreshadowed a couple times (the pimp with the Jar Jar tattoo was a particularly painful example), it's the attitude of hope and a love for the story that's really focused on.  And by the time the characters have reached the opening of Phantom Menace, each has progressed to a point that the film really doesn't matter; each had progressed in their lives, and while it's definitely okay to love something, their reals lives had taken precedence.

The only thing that could have made the film any better for me would have been a cameo from Lucas himself, though I don't think anyone was too surprised by his absence.

KATE SAYS as far I can tell, Fanboys is the male Geek answer to Beaches and Terms of Endearment.

Since I don't even get Beaches and Terms of Endearment, Fanboys was rather like watching Galaxy Quest in Thermian (which you can do, by the way!). A whole bunch of "Huh"?

For example, I was totally non-plussed by the Star Trek v. Star Wars stuff--at least initially. I'm a Trekkie, but I've never felt any animosity towards the Star Wars universe (just towards Lucas's directing). I intellectually understand that people can and will take unrelenting positions on pop culture issues (like Angel-Buffy v. Spike-Buffy fans), but the Star Trek v. Star Wars thing just didn't resonate.


I began to think there might be something to the us v. them split when I asked myself, "Is there a contemporary satire that spoofs sci-fi that you, Kate, do connect with at that awesome Geek level?"

The answer: Galaxy Quest.

This was about the same time that William Shatner showed up in Fanboys, and I laughed myself silly.

So maybe I'm a Trekkie in more than just name.

I did enjoy Fanboys' use of Star Wars as the ultimate Geek symbol: the sheer excitement of being obsessed with a particular world, group of characters, or storyline. I may not get Star Wars at that level, but I get obsessing over Trek (naturally), Stargate (the fanboys watch Stargate during the movie!), difficult-to-track-down graphic novels, and Agent Coulson.
From Num3rs. Later in the episode, the character provides a
great deadpan line: "So I get shot, and you guys respond
by doing a lot math."
In addition, the movie's ending supplies some great moments, such as everyone threatening to burn stuff and Linus sitting alone in the theater while his friends wait. The movie is really about the journey, and the journey is truly a gift.

And I enjoyed seeing Jay Baruchel again. I ran across Jay Baruchel in Numb3rs. I'm a fan. So I was glad not only to see him in the movie but with the role he got to play.

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