In 1999, Star Wars fanatics take a cross-country trip to George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch so their dying friend can see a screening of The Phantom Menace before its release.
|Release Date||:||February 6, 2009|
|Production Company||:||The Weinstein Company, Third Rail Releasing|
|Production Countries||:||United States of America|
|Director||:||Kyle Newman, Kathleen Messmer|
|Writers||:||Ernest Cline, Adam F. Goldberg|
|Casts||:||Sam Huntington, Chris Marquette, Dan Fogler, Jay Baruchel, Kristen Bell, Seth Rogen, William Shatner, Carrie Fisher, Ethan Suplee, Christopher McDonald, Danny Trejo, Billy Dee Williams, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Zak Knutson, Ray Park, Will Forte, Craig Robinson, Charlie B. Brown, Allie Grant, Joe Lo Truglio, Clark Sanchez, Danny McBride|
|Plot Keywords||:||fan, road trip, fan culture, rivalry, science fiction, urination, buddy, cameo, space opera, fandom|
Here is a film for the Star Wars geeks out there and only them. The story follows a group of five Star Wars obsessed friends in 1998 setting off on their own journey across the country to break in George Lucas's ranch and steal a copy of PHANTOM MENACE for an early screening. The original motivation for the endeavor is that one of the friends, Linus (Chris Marquette), has cancer and might not be around for it's theatrical release. It's a nice touch that could've added extra meaning behind the crazy plan of breaking into Lucas's home, but unfortunately its a fact that's breezed over and rarely mentioned over the course of the film. There had been reports of consistent trouble in the post-production process and studio interference that resulted in a lot of the cancer subplot being removed; if so, that's a shame because I think it could've only strengthened the plot, putting more meaning into their drastic actions.
Nearly all of the humor in the film is related to the original epic trilogy and, while casual fans will understand a good deal of the references, I'm sure even more of the jokes will go right over their heads. A lot of the laughs come from throwbacks to iconic moments (the malfunctioning hyperdrive on the Falcon/Hutch's "lightspeed" on the van failing to function) and from the cameos scattered throughout the movie. All the best parts of the film are from the cameos dropping by in every other scene: Danny Trejo, Seth Rogen (in not one, but three bit parts), Ethan Suplee, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, and a few key cameos that I'm not going to spoil here for those who plan to see the movie (the best being the "inside man" who supplies the information to get into Lucas's ranch).
The cameos really steal the show in this movie (and there's practically one in every other scene) but the core cast certainly does a great job on their own. The central group of actors do such a good job and appear to be having so much fun that I wouldn't be surprised if they were Star Wars geeks off-set as well. It was a good idea casting actors who could almost be considered unknowns, most of them recognizable for past projects but far from being big names (with exceptions). Sam Huntington is the team's straight-man, Eric, who abandoned his friends after high school in favor of a job with his father's used car lot. Chris Marquette is Linus, the cancer-stricken friend providing the backbone for the whole motivation of the film; despite his cancer subplot being brushed under the carpet, his long-standing disappointment with Eric over giving up on their dream to start their own comic remains as the main point of contention to add some sort of conflict to their trip. Dan Fogler is easily the funniest cast member as the friend who continues to live in his mom's garage (sorry, "carriage house") and has the souped-up Star Wars van complete with R2-D2 poking out the top. Finally, Jay Baruchel as über-nerd Windows and Zoe Bell as the fangirl with an attitude round of the rest of the team.
The movie is funny but the problem lies in that it targets a niche audience. People who aren't at least casual fans of the Star Wars movies might watch this and wonder what everyone else is laughing at. It's funny enough for us fans though that it makes for an entertaining movie the first time through, but repeated viewings don't stand up as well because the cameo surprises are old news and the trivia moments don't hold up.