2009 In Review: ‘Fanboys’ – A Love Letter To Passionate Fans

There was a period of time between 2005 and 2015 when it seemed like there would be no more Star Wars movies. No film for avid fans to rally around, cheer for, or ultimately berate endlessly. Then, in 2009, a new hope emerged. A long-gestating independent film called Fanboys was released. Most independent films do not get thunderous applause, hearty whooping laughter, or elicit the same level of excitement as the films that inspired it as this one did. It was a movie made for a very specific group of people by that very same group of people about that same group of people. Directed by Kyle Newman the film follows a group of long-time friends and Star Wars fans in the late 90s before the release of The Phantom Menace as they roadtrip to sneak into Skywalker Ranch to see Episode I early before one of their own succumbs to cancer. Along the way the ideas of what it means to be a fan, one’s lasting legacy, friendship, and passion are all explored.

When I Fell In Love with ‘Fanboys’

The Star Wars nods, references, and discussions throughout perfectly captured the relationship and pastime of my friends and me but the scene where I fell in love with Fanboys was early on in the movie when Windows (Jay Baruchel) and Hutch (Dan Fogler) are arguing about the significance of Boba Fett. The banter back and forth with encyclopedic knowledge of the character is likely lost on most average movie-goers, but to someone who has participated in similar discussions, it strikes a chord. These are the conversations I have had with my friends suddenly validated. In a small way, I suddenly knew that we were not alone. These characters were talking my language and I didn’t stop smiling from that point on.

Most Rewatchable Scene

Midway through their journey to Skywalker Ranch, the gang decides that the best thing to do would be to pick a fight with Trekkies, the devoted fanbase of Star Trek, in the hometown of James T. Kirk. Seth Rogen leads the fans in retaliation as Hutch and crew rag on Kirk, Star Trek, and the entire inferior “Star” franchise. The scene is over-the-top and hilariously points out the ironies of these two groups of very passionate people defending the culture that they love while simultaneously tearing down the other. The insults levied against each other are collectively familiar to fans of both franchises but to have them aimed toward one another illustrates the very reason why nerds, for a long time, were socially ostracized; they simply don’t see themselves as anything less than cool. Mass spontaneous brawls are always amusing (see Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy) and this one is no exception.

The Best Scene

Late in the movie, after several hiccups, setbacks, and some jailtime Linus (Chris Marquette) and Eric (Sam Huntington) sit on the brink of a canyon and discuss the failure of their mission with Windows and Hutch. Trying to encourage Eric to continue on their quest, Hutch tells him he needs to find his Death Star, that one defining moment like Luke Skywalker had, that allows them to live on forever. It’s a somber moment, particularly for that character, but illustrates the central theme of the movie of living your life to the fullest, passionately and unashamedly. Rather than slow the movie down, it gives it the emotional jolt to get through to the end and it’s the one scene that continually resonates with me.

Why You Should Watch It Again

Ho-o-boy, where do I start? Since this movie’s release, the number of self-proclaimed fanboys/girls has increased exponentially. Due, in part, to Disney’s rejuvenation of the Star Wars brand and the general acceptance that nerds were right all along and have always liked the actual coolest things, the definition of “fanboy” has been watered down. Most of the Disney-era fanboys wouldn’t be able to list more than five characters from the former Expanded Universe, nor are they aware of the intricacies of the entire universe Lucas built. They do recognize that Rey stands as a role model for young girls, BB-8 is the new generation’s R2-D2, and the Force can be used to make one fly like Superman into a damaged ship. They may not be as well-versed but the existence of these new fans help to stoke the fire and bring Star Wars back to the forefront of pop culture relevance. It’s like inviting the cool kids to come play in your sandbox where you get to establish the rules of the universe. This movie serves to educate the masses on what it was like before the Episode VII boom to be a fan. It represents an entire generation of fans and, like when Rey desperately holds out the lightsaber to Luke hoping to learn more, these new fans are eager to learn the ways of the Fanboy.

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