Time was people looked to the cool kids for guidance, but nowadays, everyone wants to be like the geeks.
Following four rabid fans on a quest to sneak an early peek at "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace," Kyle Newman's "Fanboys" presents itself as a knowing tribute to the obsessive nature of fan culture. But unlike geek-culture avatars Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith, Newman is content to bask in his subject's reflected glow instead of figuring out what makes it tick.
FOR THE RECORD:
'Fanboys': A review of the movie "Fanboys" in Friday's Calendar section said that actor Dan Fogler's character, Hutch, is a former aspiring comic-book artist who's trying hard to believe he's happy working at his father's car dealership. That description applies to the character Eric, played by Sam Huntington. Fogler's Hutch is a curly haired comic-book fan. —
Set in 1998, before George Lucas acolytes learned to wince at the name Jar Jar Binks, "Fanboys" stars Dan Fogler as Hutch, a former aspiring comic-book artist who's trying hard to convince himself that he's happy working at his father's car dealership.
When a handful of friends from his fanboy days drops by, he tries to brush them off, but the news that Linus (Chris Marquette) is dying of cancer is enough to enlist him in a midnight raid on Skywalker Ranch.
The director stuffs "Fanboys" with cameos by players from the "Star Wars" movies and other sci-fi touchstones, but the most revealing bit of casting is Seth Rogen's turn as a "Star Trek" fan who makes the core quartet look like social butterflies.
Newman's trying for something along the lines of the recent string of Judd Apatow hits (he even casts supporting Apatow player Jay Baruchel in a major role), but he and his writers don't have anything like Apatow's smarts.
The film's homage is too slavish to provoke any thrill of recognition. "Fanboys" doesn't have a fan's obsessive attention to detail, or the giddy geekiness that can make Tarantino's movies both thrilling and trying. It's not nearly nerdy enough.