“Nobody calls Han Solo a bitch!”
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that if you’re not a Star Wars fan you won’t enjoy this…well actually I will and the fact is that probably a lot of Star Wars fans didn’t even really dig it that much either. The fanboys in question are Eric (Sam Huntington), Linus (Chris Marquette), Hutch (Dan Fogler), Windows (Jay Baruchel) and Zoe (Kristen Bell). Five force-adept geeks who decide one day to travel across America to Skywalker Ranch in a rather outrageous attempt to break in and watch Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace before it’s general release into theatres.
Perhaps I’m being slightly harsh in hindsight. On the surface it’s a fun, enjoyable movie that definitely has some laugh out loud moments and as a Star Wars fan myself I did love all the in-jokes and purposefully attributed dialogue from the original trilogy. There are times when they step over the mark a little and what starts out as a love letter to George Lucas slowly turns into what feels slightly like a cheap attempt to please the fans rather than inspired or clever writing. It’s difficult to get the right balance with movies like this but I think there’s enough in here to give it the thumbs up, or at the very least not give it the thumbs down.
What complicates the story is the fact that Linus – the figurative leader of the group – has cancer and that is the driving force behind the hastiness of the group’s trek across America. It’s a pretty poor attempt to introduce genuine conflict into a story that doesn’t really need it besides the obstacles thrown in front of the group along their way – of which there are many – and it drags the movie down quite a bit. We go from outlandish gags to being reminded that this kid is going to die in the next few months. Not exactly the best combination.
The cast are all pretty good. I don’t know how much diversity was originally written into the initial script but all five do a decent job of bringing something to the table. Dan Fogler’s Hutch and Jay Baruchel’s Windows are the duo gifted with the most funny moments. Fogler embodies a young Jack Black during his intense, anger fuelled geeky rants and Baruchel is spot on as the super-nasally king of nerds. However, the characters are a tad stereotypical overall and there’s a ton of clichés that have all been done a lot better in previous parody type movies but it still managed to make me chuckle from time to time. Huntington and Marquette are supposed to be the two old friends of the movie who have grown apart and are constantly battling with each other over whether their obsession with their fandom should come before real life. I guess their relationship is meant to add some weight to the often silly, exhausted archetypical nuisances that always show up in these road trip romps, and it does, but like the inclusion of Linus’ cancer it just felt like a sluggish distraction. Kristen Bell’s Zoe feels like she’s just been added in as a statistic to broaden the audience. She’s good though and sweetens the sourness of the group from time to time.
Throughout the movie the group encounter various “hilarious” hardships on the road, some tired and blatant rip offs from other fandoms, some genuinely funny – or at least whimsical. The appearance of Seth Rogen definitely adds some effectiveness and while the other cameo appearances by Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams and William Shatner made me smile, it also felt a little desperate. The laughs don’t really hold up after the first viewing though.
Gavin Logan – Follow me on Twitter