I watched two films yesterday that would be moderately entertaining for most people but would probably earn an extra star or two from any audience members who were familiar with Star Wars, George Lucas, and the highs and lows of Star Wars fandom.  We’ll begin with a feature film and then finish with a documentary.

Fanboys (2008)

A group of young men decide to fulfill a childhood dream of taking a cross-country trip to see George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch.  The trip does have a darker side — their goal is to break in and steal a copy of Star Wars Episode 1 before it’s released.  To clarify, this movie is set during a very special time, in that bubble of excitement just before Episode 1 was released.  Remember that time?  When we were all looking forward to finding out just how spectacular The Phantom Menace was going to be?  Before we had the tragic misfortune of meeting JAR JAR BINKS???  But I digress …  Anyway, the other dark aspect of this film is that the guys decide to fulfill this lifelong dream NOW because one of them has been diagnosed with cancer and is not expected to live long enough to see the film on its official release date.

While there is a core of sadness in the center of the movie, it’s still basically a comedy.  The characters aren’t exactly well-drawn, but they’re not one-dimensional either.  The action is fast and funny, sometimes uneven but basically enjoyable.  I have two primary reasons for recommending this film to any and all Star Wars fans: you should see it because of the ongoing battle between the Star Wars fans and the Star Trek fans (which made me laugh out loud several times), and you should also see it because there are some VERY funny cameos.

 

The People vs. George Lucas (2010)

I’d heard about this documentary a while ago, back when Star Wars fans were being invited to contribute their own videos to this project.  According to the description on the DVD case, the filmmakers used interviews taken from over 600 hours of footage, so apparently they got a lot of contributions from fans who wanted to vent about George Lucas.  Anyway, while Fanboys made me laugh more, The People vs. George Lucas made me think more.  I enjoyed the interviews, the fan videos, the songs, and the discussions of such low points in the Star Wars universe as the super-annoying Jar Jar Binks and the super-ridiculous Star Wars Holiday Special.  And yes, in case you were wondering, the topic of Han shooting first might have been raised once or twice …

If you do decide to watch both of these films like I did, then I recommend that you watch them in the same order.  Watch Fanboys first, which celebrates one of the highest points of Star Wars fandom and ends with the characters sitting in the theater and waiting for The Phantom Menace to begin.  And THEN you should watch The People vs. George Lucas, a film that would never have been made if The Phantom Menace hadn’t turned out to be such a major disappointment.

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