- The Washington Times - Friday, February 20, 2009

Imagine a film centered around a quartet of astrophysicists making a trans-Atlantic journey to break into the Large Hadron Collider and conduct an experiment. During their wacky trip to the Franco-Swiss border, they crack wise about muons, quarks and the vagaries of string theory.

They butt heads with classical physicists, who are derided as hopelessly nerdy. Well-known (and some less-well known) scientists including Brian Greene provide hilarious cameos.

Sound appealing to you? Probably not, unless you’re a theoretical physicist yourself.

Herein lies the problem with “Fanboys,” a new road-trip comedy about a quartet of “Star Wars” geeks who strike out to break into Skywalker Ranch to catch a sneak peek at “Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” Unless you’re well-steeped in the arcana of the original “Star Wars” trilogy, there’s slim to no chance you’ll get much out of this film.

“Fanboys” opens in 1998 with Eric (Darth Vader and a pair of Stormtroopers. Windows even has his laptop so he can check in on his “Star Wars”-loving girlfriend.

There’s no lack of tension in the group. Linus feels betrayed by Eric, who abandoned his dream of becoming a comic-book artist to take a job at his dad’s car lot. Nobody, meanwhile, has bothered to tell Eric that Linus has an unnamed terminal disease.

When Hutch and Windows fill Eric in, the group decides to storm Mr. Lucas’ semilegendary base of operations, the Skywalker Ranch, to view a rough cut of the prequel launching six months later — a few months after Linus is destined to kick the bucket.

All sorts of wackiness ensues in the road trip that follows: a stop-off in a gay biker bar, a quarrel with a group of Trekkies (“Star Trek” nerds, the evil twin brothers to the “Star Wars” nerds), a quick trip through Vegas.

Along the way, there are a number of funny cameos. William Shatner swings by.

Veronica Mars in a Princess Leia-style gold bikini.

For those initiated into the fraternity of “Star Wars” geekery — a group that includes your humble reviewer — “Fanboys” is a fun time at the theater. It provides plenty of laughs, fun cameos and many arguments over random trivia.

Those unsure of what a scruffy nerfherder is or what the planet Kashyyyk represents in the broader “Star Wars” universe, however, probably will want to sit this one out.

★★★ (For “Star Wars” fans)

★½ (For everyone else)

TITLE: Fanboys

RATING: PG-13 (Pervasive crude and sexual material, language and drug content)

CREDITS: Directed by Kyle Newman

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

WEB SITE: www.fanboys-themovie.com/

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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