Fanboys: forget the critics, this is fun.
I saw Fanboys last night, finally. I must be the only geek on Earth who hadn't seen this movie in some stage of unfinishedness. Every time I was at Comic Con when they sneak-previewed it in one form or another something was going on I wanted to see more. I went there with a scruffy band of 501st Legion and Rebel Legion fanboys and fangirls who were invited to troop around a little in costume in the lobby of the Mann's Chinese 6 theatre. (This is of course not to be confused with the main screen at the complex, the legendary Grauman's Chinese, where I saw Star Wars 30 ahem ahem years ago during its first run.)
The critics seem to have a real need to pan this movie. I can't understand why. Nobody was expecting Citizen frakkin' Kane out of this movie. It's a silly comedy about three fanboys and one fangirl who never grew up, and their friend who is pondering whether or not to grow up.
Yes, the cancer sub-plot is back, handled with a surprisingly light and sensitive touch. It's there, it provides the impetus and the "why" for the road trip, and yeah, it got my heartstrings a couple of times. If the subplot was taken out of the movie, as was the danger for a while, the story becomes one of a bunch of self-centered lamers wanting to be the first geeks to see Episode I. It would have ruined it completely, and whatever affection you feel for these characters would have been gone. Thankfully the Weinsteins listened to the fans and put the plot back in.
The movie that is the real paen to the wonder of blockbuster Sci-Fi movies of the '70s is still not out yet: that's Patrick Read Johnson's 77 (formerly 5-25-77) which seems to be constantly beset with disappointments and deals falling through constantly. I saw that at Celebration IV (on 5-25-07, no less!) and even in its rough state it was a charming, engrossing and thoroughly heartfelt coming of age story that might be more the droid the critics were looking for.
Oh yeah, one other thing about Fanboys. The subplot about rivalry between Star Wars fandom and Star Trek fandom is just not rooted in reality. As we all hung out in the lobby, some in costume, some not, we were talking about how the JJ Abrams reboot of Star Trek was something we all were looking forward to. It makes for some funny scenes, but the biggest cheap shots were also part of this subplot. It was unnecessary to move the plot forward and only served to inject a few chase scenes and fight scenes too many.
Aside from that, Fanboys will only disappoint if you are expecting something more than a silly movie about geeky people. It helps if you are a fannish type yourself.