Fanboys (2009)

Rated: PG-13 for pervasive crude and sexual material, language and drug content
Length: 90 minutes
Grade: ADB+B+=A-
Budget: Unknown
Box Office: $800,000 (0.7 U.S., 0.1 Intl.)

Written by: Ernest Cline (No notable priors) and Adam F. Goldberg (No notable priors)
Directed by: Kyle Newman (No notable priors)
Starring: Sam Huntington, Chris Marquette, Dan Fogler, Jay Baruchel, Kristen Bell, and Seth Rogen, with cameos by Kevin Smith, William Shatner, Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, and Ray Park.

Prior to the release of Star Wars Episode 1 The Phantom Menace, four lifelong buddies decide to implement a plan they hatched years ago to travel to the Skywalker Ranch and steal a copy of the movie for themselves. In the process, their quest winds up reenacting many elements of the original Star Wars movies.

Entertainment Value: A
The Force was with them. Despite a bundle of delays and a limited release, this is everything Star Wars fans have been anticipating since the project was first advertised more than two years ago. I would worry that only Star Wars fans would enjoy this, but even my wife thought it was hilarious in spite of her lack of great admiration for all things Lucas. The plot is certainly not the greatest, but the characters are fascinating and the jokes (many, many inside jokes) are hilarious.

Superficial Content: D
Drugs/Alcohol C, Sex/Nudity C, Violence B, Language F, Illegality C
The characters get high with an Indian on peyote and the movie opens at a party with alcohol. Language is constant and strong. I was a bit surprised it only got PG-13, given the language. There is one sexual scene with no nudity, although there are several vulgar discussions and actions, about what you’d expect from twenty-ish Star Wars geeks. In fact, the basic lack of sexuality is actually one of the bright spots here. Also, the plot is about stealing and breaking and entering. There is one fight between the boys and a bunch of Star Trek fans, which is more hilarious than violent.

Significant Content: B+
Love is often right where you least expect to find it. Star Wars and Star Trek are incompatible. Loyalty to friends is essential. Impending death makes you really think about what significance your life has and how to accomplish something meaningful to you with what’s left of it. The key to life is finding your Death Star, conquering it, and then living on the memory of that one great deed the rest of your days.

Artistic/Thought Value: B+
This movie was clearly made by people who have a real love of Star Wars. It was given George Lucas’s blessing, and the presence of several actors from the movies shows that real fans will love this. The homage starts even as early as the production company ID, where the sounds of light sabers are used to coincide with the logo developing. It’s not really a thought-producer, but as a Star Wars homage, it’s brilliant.

Discussion Questions:
~One key theme of the movie is the importance of finding your Death Star and conquering it to give your life meaning. Do you agree with this assessment? Is it a Christian perspective? Have you ever done something magnificent? Is it better to have your big accomplishment early in life, late in life, or never? How do you think musical artists feel that fans want them to play a hit from 30 years ago more than their current work? How does this concept apply to the people involved in Star Wars themselves? What is your Death Star?
~How many Star Wars parallels and connections can you find in the movie? Consider, for instance, the vocational parallels between Luke and Eric.
~Do you think someone who doesn’t know the Star Wars series intimately will enjoy this movie very much?
~Can someone be both a Star Wars and a Star Trek fan? Which group is more cool? Why are things like these two fantasy worlds so important to men and generally far less important to women? How are the discussions fans have about Star Wars (or comic books, e.g.) similar to theological discussions?

Overall Grade: A-
Funny, entertaining, and for all those who love Star Wars a bit more than we really should, this movie is affirmation that we are not alone in our galaxy far, far away.

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