Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fanboys

I was born in 1980, right at the heart of the Star Wars phenomenon. Like most guys my age, I grew up with Star Wars, and obsessed over it. I had all the toys, and sold them to a friend who made a killing on Ebay. I had Return of the Jedi sheets, and destroyed them at a high school toga party. I was Luke Skywalker for Halloween, but I won’t say how old I was.

Fanboys is about a group of twenty-somethings who are even bigger geeks than I am. They are so obsessed in fact, they turn to a life of crime. One of these guys, Linus, is terminally ill and has waited years for the release of Episode I, The Phantom Menace. The group decides they have to steal a copy of The Phantom Menace from Skywalker Ranch before its release. Linus must see the movie before he dies.

Fanboys combines the all American road movie with Star Wars. It has its share of standard road movie adventure, plus there are many great references and hilarious discussions regarding the series. Real fanboys will love this movie just for the subject matter; but it’s not only for fans. The characters don’t take themselves too seriously. They are fully aware of their nerd-oriety and this will entertain the non-fans. However, they appear less nerdy than the Trekkers they often encounter; Star Trek fans who want to stop the fanboys in their quest. Some folks might not get the inside jokes, but I’m sure they’d find the characters and situations hilarious.

This movie reminded me a lot of Detroit Rock City, and not only because Sam Huntington stars in both. I loved Detroit Rock City. There are plenty of great references and jokes about Kiss, but the movie is funny on its own. The things that happen to the kids along their journey are pretty outrageous. Fanboys is successful in that way too.

The main characters in Fanboys are all over 21. I loved that. To write them as high school kids would have been cliché and that would have killed one of the major themes. Eric (Sam Huntington) has basically “grown up” in the story. He’s thrown away his comics and ditched his friends who are stuck in their childish ways. The others still collect comics, worship Star Wars and refuse to grow up. Writing them as twenty-somethings made the story much more convincing.

I would have liked to see a couple things fixed. The movie is scored with cheesy adventure music similar to the classic John Williams theme. It wasn’t very good and they shouldn’t have tried to pull it off. It reminded me of the Star Wars episode of That 70’s Show and sounded like that rights-free music you can buy for a dollar. I understand if they couldn’t get the actual theme (I hope they tried) but they should have left the goofy adventure music out.

There were also dozens of great cameos from past Star Wars actors. I could list them here, but that would ruin the fun. However, there’s one very important cameo missing, and I consider that a real travesty. Hint - he has a beard.

4 light up sword thingies

Friday, June 12, 2009

Surfer, Dude

Having not seen a single preview for this movie, my sole reason for watching it was to find out what that comma is doing in the title. I'm still not entirely convinced.

Surfer (comma) Dude stars Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, and, because there's weed, Willie Nelson. McConaughey plays a famous surfer named Steve "Add" Addington. Add makes his money on surfboard endorsements but somehow gets involved with an evil businessman. This evil ex-surfer is bent on getting Add to live in a reality TV house and put his likeness into a virtual surfing game. Add would rather surf real waves than virtual ones but unfortunately there's a wave drought all over the west coast. Does he go against the surf gods and sign with this gremmie, or does he remain true to the surfer (comma) dude image and wait patiently for some tasty waves?

The plot seems like something you might see on The Simpsons. I can totally see these people drawn as Groening characters. I can see the TV Guide entry now: Sunday, 6:30 pm. Matthew McConaughey guest stars. Bart needs to help him defeat Comic Book Guy, who wants to make a surfing videogame. The difference is that The Simpsons is a funny and intelligent show. Overall, this story was very obscure and for lack of a better word, minuscule. I wouldn't expect that of a feature length film.

The ending was extremely weak as well. Had this been a television show, I might be able to accept the ridiculousness of it. But this is a film, and after sitting for an hour-and-a-half waiting for the climax, you come to expect a little more. Add overcomes the evil businessman in such a simple way that you'd think a kid wrote it. And what happens is not even possible.

I can't really tell if this movie was meant to be funny. I think it's more attempted quirkiness. There were some humorous bits though. Add walks everywhere barefoot, so when the pavement is hot, he walks kind of funny. There was that, and um... some funny thing about goats. I didn't get it, but goats are funny. They eat cans.

McConaughey and Harrelson are pretty good at portraying the partying surfer duo, although, I don't think surfers smoke that much weed. They did a fine job and were quite funny. Add reminded me more of McConaughey's goofy role in Dazed and Confused rather than the A-list scarf-wearing charmer we've seen lately. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past? Really?

The actress who plays Danni, Add's girlfriend, is just awful. There's one scene where Add teaches her some cool surfer lingo. He explains that, "It's going off, dude," is a really cool thing to say when you're about to go surfing. Of course she repeats this back to him later on in the movie. But the way she says it is so corny and hilarious. You can really tell she's acting when she asks questions or makes sad faces.

Basically the movie isn't very good. It's dull, slow, and sometimes weird for the sake of weird. Some of the surfing shots are incredible. But it almost appears as if they were taken from other movies, like wild animal footage. I can't really say what they could do to improve the film, except for rewriting the story.

Oh, and the comma thing - Add is a "surfer dude", no comma. That should be the title. However, there's actually a line where Add says, "I'm a surfer, dude." So maybe the title was taken from half of that quote? Or the writer just likes punctuation. Either way it should have been called "Free Surfer", the name of the videogame. To me, that would have been the obvious choice. It references a major element in the story and is extremely meaningful. After all, Add just wants to be a surfer.

2 Surfers, dude.






Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Chick Flick Calculator, now online!

Last month, I introduced my new invention, the Chick Flick Calculator. With some guidance from Fletch at Blog Cabins, I was finally able to get it posted online! Hooray - you can get this marvelous machine here.

Below are some movies commonly thought to be chick flicks. The results may be surprising, but remember, this is purely scientific... and you can't argue with science.

Chick Flicks:
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Devil Wears Prada
Terms of Endearment
Steel Magnolias
In Her Shoes

Not Chick Flicks:
Titanic
My Best Friend’s Wedding
Walk to Remember
The Notebook
The English Patient
Legally Blonde
Love Actually
Clueless

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Large Association of Movie Blogs

Awesome. I am now a member of the Large Association of Movie Blogs. And it is large! I'm number 306. Check out all the fun reviews and articles from my new friends:

Large Association of Movie Blogs

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