Arts & Life


Geek alert, especially for "Star Wars" geeks.

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SIEGEL: A movie called "Fanboys" opens tomorrow. It's about some devoted fans of the space saga that took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Bob Mondello says that "Fanboys" was made by fanboys for fanboys, but its appeal will likely be much broader.

BOB MONDELLO: It's a decade or so ago, on a Halloween far, far away, and four high school grads costumed as imperial storm troopers are hatching a plan. The release of George Lucas' fourth, or first, "Star Wars" movie, depending on how you're counting, is just months away, an event these guys regard as worthy of an epic quest.

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Unidentified Man #1 (Actor): Imagine we drive across the country. In one night, we break in the Skywalker Ranch and steal ourselves a print.

MONDELLO: Beer-fueled enthusiasm would normally fade by the next morning, but these are no ordinary "Star Wars" fans. One of them has issues with his father. Another has a beat-up van outfitted like the Millennium Falcon, and they all know more about Ewoks and Tatooine than they do about, say, girls and planet Earth, something they establish when their Jedi-worthiness is challenged at one point.

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Unidentified Man #2 (Actor): Episode V was directed by who?

Unidentified Man #3 (Actor): Irvin Kirshner.

Unidentified Man #2 (Actor): You. In Episode VI, when Leia shoots down two scout troopers, why doesn't she take one of the speeder bikes instead of walking?

Unidentified Man #4 (Actor): If you pay attention closely, the speeder bikes were destroyed, okay? And then Luke refers to it later on in the dialogue.

Unidentified Man #2: Impressive. I wasn't really worried about you, though. What was Luke Skywalker's call sign in the rebel assault in Episode IV?

Unidentified Man #5 (Actor): Red Five.

Unidentified Man #2: You are all only as strong as your weakest link.

MONDELLO: You'd think the weakest link in "Fanboys" would be that it's all in-jokes, but they're actually not so in that a casual fan won't get them. Director Kyle Newman and his screenwriters started with a "Harold and Kumar"-style road trip full of raunchy chatter and then made the details equal opportunity nerdy, as when the star warriors encounter turbulence on the way to Skywalker Ranch from a whole other universe. A crucial file folder gets tossed to them by a familiar looking figure in the shadows.

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Mr. WILLIAM SHATNER (Actor): (As himself) It's all there: maps, pass codes, phony IDs to get you past the front gates, but that's not what's most important.

Unidentified Man #6 (Actor): What's the most important?

MONDELLO: The shadowy figure, Star Fleet commander turned Web site huckster, steps out of the shadows.

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Mr. SHATNER: (As himself) We never met.

Unidentified Man # (Actor) 7: This is unreal. How did you screw all this stuff?

Mr. SHATNER: (As himself) Are you kidding? I'm William Shatner. I can screw anything.

MONDELLO: This "Star Trek"/"Star Wars" divide is heightened in a pair of battles with Seth Rogen, and there are cameos by pop culture figures Jay and Silent Bob, Princess Leia and others. When a plot twist seems weird enough, you can generally assume it comes from a Lucas movie, and real fanboys will doubtless get things that flew right past me.

As funny as "Fanboys" often is, it's not graceful, possibly because it had a troubled production history. The final film has a committee-made feel to it, but the committee was undeniably filled with geeks, fans and maybe even a droid or two. And if the version of "Fanboys" they came up with is a little sloppy, well, think about it. Would you really want a "Superbad" meets Jabba the Hut geekfest to be state of the art?

I'm Bob Mondello.

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SIEGEL: There is more on this week's new movies, including reviews of "Push" and "Coraline" at

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