Star Wars nuts will probably laugh at Fanboys, as seemingly there’s nothing funnier than repeating lines from the Star Wars movies. Fanboys proceeds from a great premise: four twentysomething buddies—motivated by the imminent cancer-related death of one of them—race 2000 miles from Ohio to California’s Skywalker Ranch to break in and watch a rough cut of The Phantom Menace six months before its release. Unfortunately, screenwriters Ernest Cline and Adam F. Goldberg seem to have little idea what to do between point A and Point B or how to make it funny.
The fanboys are all played by familiar faces—Sam Huntington, Chris Marquette, Jay Baruchel and Dan Fogler—plus their fangirl friend Kristen Bell. They all fit recognizable types: Huntington's Eric is more of a closet fan, who passes in the world of straights by apprenticing at his the car dealership of his father (Christopher McDonald); wiseass Linus (Marquette) is the one stricken with "Camille" cancer (the kind with no symptoms but death; "Windows" (Jay Baruchel) is the online nerd; and "Hutch" (Dan Fogler) is the boorish loudmouth.
Nearly all of the episodic premises in this road movie are ultra-lame comic clichés: an intensely stupid "gay panic" scene in a biker bar, an ill-advised rendezvous with an online girlfriend, the alien-invaded floor of a sci-fi convention, the dawning realization that the tomboy friend is actually an eligible female. Even when the idea seems promising (a detour to Riverside, Iowa—Captain Kirk's "birthplace"—to tangle with Trekkers), the execution fizzles. (Okay, I can't entirely hate a scene that contains the line "Get the hell out of here, you Kirk-loving Spock-suckers!")
Though Bell has gotten more exposure since 2006, The Weinstein Company screwed up by keeping this movie on the shelf for over two years, as the culture has only compounded more lame Star Wars parodies in the interim, making the subject matter yet more tired. Almost all of the film’s goodwill relies on eleven cameos that are mostly more surprising than they are amusing. I won't reveal them, except to say that Seth Rogen plays three characters—none of them funny—and two significant actors from the original trilogy appear (the cameos are itemized all around the web if you want, y'know, spoilers).
If you refuse to wait for cable, where it will all seem more palatable, Fanboys has its moments, like the garb of Lucasfilm security (no, not Stormtroopers—you take these guys for amateurs?), what the guys see when they take peyote, and, yes, Bell in Princess Leia’s slave bra. There's also the fanboy version of drama: the cancer subplot (reportedly saved from the Weinstein chopping block, so there's that) and the notion of finding purpose beyond idle fandom, ironically expressed as "finding your Death Star." But seriously, folks, if you want to hear characters talk to each other in Star Wars dialogue, I've got a couple of trilogies for you.