By Stephanie Breijo
While gross-out humor and a pregnant, screaming fiancée at the altar got Simon Pegg sprinting, “Run Fatboy Run” should instill nothing more than a walk—or better yet, leisurely drive—to the theatre for a predictable comedy.
If Pegg’s previous cinema hits “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” are brothers in the comedic gem family, “Run Fatboy Run” is the awkward stepchild that doesn’t quite fit in, no matter how many laughs it uses to get your attention.
The British Pegg, who co-wrote all three films, branched away with choice in writing partners for “Fatboy,” pairing up with American comedian Michael Ian Black—who recently visited UMW—instead of the usual British writer/director/actor Edgar Wright.
Unfortunately for “Fatboy,” it shows.
The humor isn’t as dark, the jokes and plot are slightly more obvious and there are no towns full of mysterious, cultish people or zombies to add pizzazz to “Fatboy” It also happens to be “Friends” star David Schwimmer’s directorial debut, though it doesn’t seem to add too much to the film’s cinematography.
Giant pus bubbles, pantsless character quirks and children cussing couldn’t save this film from its age-old plot, where man leaves perfect woman and must perform some terrific feat to win her back. For lethargic and out of shape Dennis Doyle, running a 25-mile London marathon seems like the reasonable choice against his ex-fiancée’s athletic beau.
While this may be the formulaic romantic comedy, it does, however, have a fantastic cast.
Though the humor might not induce rolling on the floor, “Fatboy” stars Pegg—and in truth, as bad as a film may ever be, this man and his performance can do no wrong. He’s lazy, he’s tubby and he’s nearly a complete waste of space. The man can’t even take his own son to a show without getting them both arrested.
Pegg’s faults are endearing and he plays them well, though some lines are delivered as though he were Ross on “Friends.” Interesting direction, Schwimmer…
Thandie Newton stars as the romantic interest, Libby Odell. While she plays the straight man—a role that’s almost never enviable—she still holds her own, mastering the ultimate tool for a girl with too many men to choose from: the brush-off.
Hank Azaria, the only American in the leading cast, plays the O.C.D., terribly competitive and hilariously egotistical new boyfriend, intent on winning the affection of both Libby and Doyle’s son.
The absolute hero of the cast, however, is Dylan Moran—of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Notting Hill”—who plays Doyle’s gambling, shameless best friend. While’s he’s training Doyle to run a marathon in his skivvies, he’s also placing bets with money he doesn’t have and taking baths in the restrooms of upscale party locations. Over the fat Indian landlord and “Lord of the Rings”-obsessed, cussing mini-Doyle, Moran steals the show.
The film’s soundtrack isn’t bad, either, sporting David Bowie, Dirty Pretty Things, Air Traffic and The Fratellis. In fact, if anything should get you running, it should be this mix of upbeat tracks and funny sound clips from the film itself.
By Stephanie Breijo