Saturday 3 November 2012


The Fandom Menace

USA 2009
Directed by Kyle Newman
Anchor Bay Region 2

Well this is probably going to be a short review but maybe my expectations were too high.

14 years ago I saw what amounted to a UK TV premiere of a new movie which didn’t get a cinema release over here, as far as I’m aware, called Free Enterprise. It was a comedy, which is a genre I rarely like outside a few select artists, but this one was actually quite funny and spoke volumes to me. I very quickly upgraded to a DVD copy and showed it to all my mates because, basically, this was a movie about me and my friends.

No question.

It’s lke the writer and director of Free Enterprise followed me and my mates around and absolutely captured our spirits, our behaviour, our way of communicating through sentences constructed from film quotes... and spat it back up on screen for all to see. It was amazing and as I’m typing this I realise it’s almost become a forgotten classic and so I need to start telling people about it again. So I’ll save that for a review next year maybe.

Anyway... what this meant was that when I finally got caught up to Fanboys the other month, I was expecting the same degree of wit and sophistication that was on show in Free Enterprise to somehow shine between the frames and make me laugh out loud. Unfortunately, what I got was something with a half clever script that didn’t come anywhere close to giving me either the sense of identification naturally inherent in the earlier film or, for that matter, anything I felt I could laugh at.

But like I said... maybe I was expecting too much from the premise of the movie.

Set in 1999, Fanboys tells the story of five friends who grew up on Star Wars reuniting to go on a road trip because one of them has terminal cancer and they want to break into George Lucas’ ranch and screen the work print of the upcoming Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (reviewed here) so he can see it before he dies. And, of course, they have ludicrous adventures on the way, two of the friends who were estranged re-bond with each other and lots of Star Wars, Star Trek and various other franchise references abound.

With a warm hearted tale like this, I was really gagging at the bit to see this one and, truth be told, some of the cameos by people like Danny Trejo, Ray Park, Carrie Fisher, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes and William Shatner, coupled with some fairly tongue in cheek references to various bits of genre culture mixed in with some fairly sophisticated homage in some parts, is not a totally unpleasant way to spend the lengtth of a feature film. It’s not badly shot, the editing and pacing are all fine... but for me it wasn’t quite working.

For me,  think, the main problems I had with it were:

a) I could only really sympathise with one or two of the five friends, to a certain extent, in this... and even then not fully. This movie was nowhere near any of my life experiences.

b) It really wasn’t funny. At least not to me anyway.

There was some stuff that should have made me laugh, for sure. Like Ethan Suplee playing the part of Aint-It-Cool-News founder Harry Knowles and beating up our heroes before subjecting them to a nerdy Star Wars quiz. Or Kevin Smith pimping out Jason Mewes to the guy who played the donkey-shagger in Clerks 2... but strangely, I felt nothing. Sounds better as I write it now than it was actually experiencing it, truth be told. But I really can’t find anything too much at fault here either. The acting was all great and everything seemed set to be a fine collection of Star Wars themed shenanigans and it should have been just great.

There were two moments that made me sit up and take notice. One was a bit which genuinely made me laugh and was a tiny sequence where, after the Fanboys have smashed up a statue of Captain Kirk fighting Khan, one of the trekkies in the movie picks up Khan’s head and does the famous... Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan yell! Halfway through the yell, however, he stops to take a puff of his inhaler before continuing. That one gag just tickled me for some reason. I thought the film was about to kick into high gear... it didn’t.

The other thing was right near the end when, after the adventure has been more or less concluded, the dying friend sits on a rock in the distance and watches his friends interacting with each other around a camp fire at night. This little scene genuinely had some heart in it and made me feel some emotion, finally.

At the end of the day, I can’t honestly give a good recomendation to this movie as, although I’m glad I saw it, I really wasn’t happy about purchasing it (even for the very cheap price I got it for) and expected a lot more from it. However, neither can I, in all fairness, tell people not to watch this. I’m sure there will be loads of people out there who would find this a really funny movie. Personally I prefer Kevin Smith, Woody Allen and The Marx Brothers for my main suppliers of cinematic laughing gas, but this is just a taste thing and probably has no place in this review. So can’t really say there’s no point in trying his one out either.

View or view not, there is no try.

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