Okay, Fanboys (2009) is definitely not the first flick that pops into your brain when making a list of the movies you’re gonna watch in October, but it’s totally a Halloween movie.
The film kicks off at a Halloween party. October 31, 1998. Three friends, dressed as Darth Vader and two Stormstroopers, are reunited with their recently estranged friend, a former Star Wars geek himself. It’s at this Halloween party where fantastical and hypothetical plans are hatched to road trip to Skywalker Ranch and break in and steal a cut of the forthcoming Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace. Over the next few days, the estranged friend, Eric (Sam Huntington), learns that Linus (Chris Marquette) has terminal cancer. Eric convinces Linus, Hutch (Dan Fogler) and Windows (Jay Baruchel) that they need to take the trip, as they had once talked about. So essentially the movie takes place in early November. Still gonna count it as a Halloween movie!
On the way to Skywalker Ranch, the kids (which also includes Zoe, played by Kristen Bell) go up against Trekkies (Trekkers?), pimps, prostitutes, each other, William Shatner, Harry Knowles, security guards and everything else. There’s cameos a plenty and tons of references to Star Wars/sci fi/pop culture. But all of that is just the for-funsies outer layer to make the movie appeal to a niche audience. Behind the light sabers is a lot of heart.
The movie is at once a coming-of-age tale of sorts, a rekindling of lost friendship story, a road trip farce, a reminder to keep your passions close and a love letter to Star Wars. It’s brimming with a weird kind of nostalgia. Few of us in our 30s are nostalgic for The Phantom Menace specifically, but man, the months leading up to the film’s release were filled with such anticipation, wonder, curiosity, skepticism, excitement, speculation and fear. And a shit ton of Darth Maul action figures. I’m completely okay that the movie ended up….not being good. The journey from announcement to opening night was fun as hell and worth a thousand Jar Jar’s. And this movie captures that feeling spectacularly. These characters live in a world we once inhabited.
Fall, and especially Halloween, is built on nostalgia and discovery and reflection. If you haven’t seen Fanboys yet, there’s no better time than right now.