1999, the long wait is almost over for Star Wars fans as The Phantom Menace is only a few months away from release. A group of friends decide they can wait no longer and embark on a road trip to Skywalker Ranch, to break in and get their hands on a copy of the movie.
Remember when everyone was going Star Wars crazy back in the distant days of the last year of the 90s? And remember what happened once that familiar 20th Century Fox fanfare faded? A movie about Trade Union disputes with 'hilarious' slapstick antics from an annoying alien while a prepubescent Anakin Skywalker piloted a spaceship shouting yippee!! Well, maybe it wasn't all bad but certainly a major disappointment to the majority of fans. But here we have a film that rewinds to those innocent pre-Phantom Menace days when everyone was joyfully anticipating the arrival of George Lucas' sci-fi prequel.
There is certainly ripe opportunity for parodying Star Wars and its fans but Fanboys consistently misses every target. A dull unfunny road trip that's unforgivably formulaic with a forgettable cast of thinly conceived clichéd characters – the fat slob, the bespectacled geek, the guy that left for a real job – journeying from one familiar gag to the next. It's far too gentle in its comedy, seemingly fearing any attempt at self-deprecating humour may upset the fans. Although there is no such thought given to Trekkies, who are mercilessly lampooned on more than one occasion, without any sense of irony.
To give this quest some gravitas the impetus for our gang's plan to break into Skywalker Ranch is the discovery that one of them is dying from cancer. An attempt to add a serious tone to the film, that apparently led to major delays in its release with it being cut from the film then restored. It's a moral centre that's rather clunkily slotted into the plot, conveniently forgotten about for most of the time, only given screen time in scenes where the characters are supposed to be doing a bit of soul searching. But this chance for self-reflection is ultimately not followed through to its logical and satisfying conclusion.
The one element that does work in Fanboys is the addition of a few cameos, from the world of Star Wars and beyond. They don't really make the film worth sitting through though, nor does the admittedly funny last line. Fanboys' riffs on Star Wars and parodies of scenes from not only the classic trilogy but other Lucas movies are rather stale. As are the familiar trappings lifted from a million other guys-on-a-road-trip movies. Fans have been better served with a host of parodies over the long years since The Phantom Menace and this belated addition is about as enjoyable as a Jar Jar Binks Christmas Special.