Sometimes AM is shocked when Brooke hasn’t seen a movie, especially with a title like Fanboys. See, Brooke spends time in the comic book nerd and movie nerd Twittersphere. So she sees and sometimes deals with actual fanboys. Let’s have B kick it off, tell us about how she missed this film, what she thought of it, and what, exactly are “fanboys?”
B: At the time this movie came out, I totally missed it. In 2009, I was pretty deep in film school and would have been buried in way too much depressing cinema to notice a silly comedy such as this one. Later, I somehow became aware of it, but dismissed it as something that sought to mock we of the geek persuasion. What I came to find when we actually watched Fanboys was that it’s actually rather affectionate toward the titular crew it represents. What’s curious is that this picture well predates the present cycle of Star Wars films, and so doesn’t carry the curious vitriol that surrounds the new entries.
Now, there’s a toxic sense of ownership and gatekeeping around the whole affair that can make anything resembling a discussion on the topic miserable. But, that simply wasn’t the case in the era of this movie. Geek wasn’t yet chic and fanboys were simply devoted viewers who made more than the average amount of Star Wars references — you know, the people who went to Comic Cons before they were the cultural phenomenon they are today. It was a simpler time to be a geek, and I think that may be the aspect I found most joyful about the picture.
I adored the fact that the empire George Lucas built was the common ground at the center of this friendship, but it wasn’t the whole story. I loved that Kristen Bell was there (but not enough). I loathed a fair bit of the cringe-worthy humor, but it was difficult not to get behind the heart at the center of this story.
AM, we have plenty to discuss, but first and foremost, I want to know, how is it that you saw and loved this movie when I didn’t? Enlighten us.
A: A friend of mine happened to pick this as the watch of the evening, a Required Viewing before it was a thing waaayyyy back in 2010. And while the homophobic and sexist jokes (of which there are plenty, but they do not compose the entire joke landscape here) haven’t aged well WHATSOEVER, there’s still so much to find delightful.
My vote for the main reason I like this movie? Obviously Kristen Bell. Whole different story if her lovable comic book store geek pining away for Jay Baruchel wasn’t there. I would have loved if she had even more screen time, but aside from the whole adventure of getting to Skywalker Ranch and then getting into Skywalker Ranch, not to mention exploring the friendship between the guys, there simply wasn’t time.
The other thing I greatly enjoy is a road trip movie, even if you get the cliched road trip movie shenanigans that go along with it. I traveled almost exclusively by road trip when I was a kid, and it’s a bizarre and wonderful way to see the country.
Ok Brooke, what do we want to unpack as problematic?
B: Dear, oh, dear. Where do we even begin? I think the main and biggest upset has to be the extremely frequent bigoted comments and jokes. That kind of comedy just does not age well, it was pitiable then and is nothing short of cringe-worthy now. There are also some quite unfortunate attitudes toward women displayed over the course of this thing. All of this stems from the flat characters we’re dealing with, early aughts pictures of this caliber simply didn’t deal in nuance. I don’t know when audiences started demanding more — maybe they didn’t in general, but I think our responses while watching suggest that at least we have. I would that we could change things, but as we can’t, let’s on to other topics.
AM, if you and I were to go on an absurd road trip, what do you think we’d be in pursuit of? And would our outfits be better than what the boys show us?
A: Yikes. You’re right, and that the bigoted jokes weren’t even really that funny to begin with is absolutely a fact. It’s lazy, and honestly, if KBell wasn’t a part of this, I probably would never have looked at it again. She’s able to shine a light (even if it’s so small) on the boys’ stupidity, but it’s not enough.
When it comes to an ideal road trip, I’m going to go less absurd and more bespoke. Let’s grab a group, buy a big Airstream trailer, and road trip around Europe, going to all of the Game of Thrones filming locations. Perhaps in costume. Perhaps with our own butler. And of course, the outfits would be top notch.
Brooke, you mentioned the flat characters (and I’m assuming you’re referring to our gaggle of boys?), but what did you think of the emotional dealings of a friend with terminal cancer? Does the film do this justice and were you moved at all by the resolution?
B: You assume correctly, all of the fellas seem to be one thing and one thing only (too boring, too stubborn, too in possession of a rape-y van). That bleeds somewhat into the cancer storyline as well, however, by the time all is said and done, Fanboys manages to wring a bit of emotion and resonance out of that particular plot device. It has none of the quiet devastation of The Family Stone or Lords of Dogtown, but there’s a real honesty to the gang sitting on a hill together and just being that hit me right in the heart — and that’s more than I could have expected of such an effort.
And not that you asked, but I’m very in for a GoT roadtrip. My plan is less ambitious, but similarly plotted, I would take us all over England and Ireland to those quiet, gorgeous country roads that are just haunting in their beauty. We would eat all of the pastry and dairy and talk in appalling accents.
Okay, AM, is there anything else we need to cover before we declare Fanboys thoroughly RV’d?
A: I’m not surprised you’ve deemed the van to be rape-y, I don’t find it to be creepy however. Perhaps it’s the fact that it can go the speed of light and makes Millennium Falcon and R2D2 noises? Ok, it can’t really go warped speed ahead, but the other point (plus the Christmas lights) make it less rape-y and more nerdy for me. KBell would be there, and we could go all Sweet / Vicious on them if they tried anything.
Alas! You’re right. I neglected to inquire about your dream road trip, and I am also thoroughly in for a jaunt around the English and Irish countrysides. There’d also be tea, no doubt, and all the Victoria Sponge? We’d definitely also need to bring along overalls and wellies to help out with the goats and pick flowers, you know, usual English Farm Activities.
B: It’s all so true. And all nothing to do with the subject matter at hand — if this tangent was a droid, it would not be the droid we were looking for.
We’re sticking the road trip theme next time, as Annemarie watches Away We Go for the first time, but has to stop and consider several times along the way how it’s possible she’s never seen it before.