Run, Fatboy, Run

Run, Fatboy, Run


Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

"I'm not fat, I'm just unfit" moans sweat-mopped and red-faced security guard Dennis (Simon Pegg) as he chases after a transvestite thief. Well, he's not just unfit, he's scarily so - a pudgy, chainsmoking no-hoper, who left pregnant girlfriend Libby (Thandie Newton) at the altar five years ago.

Dennis is a loser, living in a basement flat, occasionally being a doting dad to his son Jake while being totally disorganised about it - failing to get Lord Of The Rings Symphony tickets, forgetting his keys all the time. Libby has a suitor, upper-crust American investment banker Whit (Hank Azaria), who is everything that Dennis is not - motivated, can-do, and well-connected. Whit plans to run in the London Marathon and Dennis, lacking better judgment, decides to follow suit to prove to Libby that he's a changed man. Dennis' best friend, previous best man and compulsive gambler Gordon (Dylan Moran) provides much-needed motivation and sports injury help - notably, the blister from hell.

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Several staples of the sports movie are present - the training montage (surprisingly funny even if it does recycle Rocky for London) and the "am I worth a damn?" moments of self-doubt. As the vessel for this, Simon Pegg demonstrates that he is an enormously capable comedy leading man, brightening up the dreary script with an eagerness to hammer out deadpan slapstick - if that makes sense. The inimitably funny Moran continues to wring laughs from the situation comedy effortlessly, while inexplicably betting the farm on Dennis' predicament. Azaria makes for a splendidly hissable villain. His standout is a cringeworthily funny gym-locker scene. The chemistry between the leading men is good - and gets several laughs. Unfortunately, the luminous Thandie Newton is handed the duty of being the bland "too good to be true" girlfriend. She is given little to do other than stand and react.

The movie is considerably funnier than writer Michael Ian Black's previous disgraceful effort, Wedding Daze, which also had a stunningly inept handling of how to write women. It also lacks the mean-spirited and nauseating flavour that plagued Pegg and director David Schwimmer's last pairing together, Big Nothing. Pegg is also credited on the script, which likely elevates the material somewhat - giving some of the stock characterisations, such as Dennis's landlord, Mr Ghoshdashtidar, who comes complete with homespun motivational training and the punishing spatula of doom! - some life and wit. The whole affair rings rather hollow when compared to other bloke human comedies about finding yourself, such as most of Nick Hornby's adapted works.

Schwimmer's occasionally inefficient and indistinguished direction doesn't really hurt the movie, although a stronger hold on the material, including some judicious cutting, would pare down its soggy midsection. There are several completely extraneous scenes - including a cameo by David Walliams, with a tiresome moment straight out of his Little Britain. There are cheesy, overwrought visuals that don't work, the "runner's wall" is represented by nothing other than a big brick wall in the middle of St. James' Park - yawn! Furthermore, the morals and themes of the piece are jammed down your throat.

Run, Fatboy, Run is a mildly entertaining comedy, transposed from its New York origins with nothing lost in translation. Then again, there wasn't too much to begin with...

Reviewed on: 08 Sep 2007
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Comedy about an unfit bloke's marathon.
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Chris ***1/2

Director: David Schwimmer

Writer: Michael Ian Black, Simon Pegg

Starring: Simon Pegg, Thandie Newton, Hank Azaria, Dylan Moran, Harish Patel, India de Beaufort, Matthew Fenton, Simon Day, Ruth Sheen, Tyrone Huggins

Year: 2007

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK, US


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