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Awesome: 3.33%
Worth A Look66.67%
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4 reviews, 6 user ratings

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Run, Fat Boy, Run
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by Jay Seaver

"Comedy is a marathon."
4 stars

There's a scene in "Run Fatboy Run" where Thandie Newton's Libby more or less baldly states that the basic outline is ridiculous - she's not going to dump her boyfriend and go back to the man who has disappointed her so much just because he runs a marathon. This makes a ton of sense, because as insanely difficult as running twenty-three miles is for someone who starts from where Simon Pegg's Dennis does, it's nothing compared to getting back into a woman's good graces after what he's done.

What he's done is leaving her at the altar on their wedding day - when she was seven months pregnant. Now, five years later, there's a new man in her life, and Whit (Hank Azaria) is everything Dennis is not - handsome, well-off, responsible, and athletic - he even runs marathons. In a bid to not look totally emasculated in front of Libby and their son Jake (Matthew Fenton), Dennis says he could run one, too, and it becomes harder to back out once Libby's cousin (and Dennis's best mate) Gordon (Dylan Moran) bets on him to finish, and he bets his landlord Maya Goshdashtidar (India de Beaufort) his back rent versus eviction. So it's training time, though Jake, Gordon, and Maya's father (Harish Patel) aren't exactly a crack coaching staff.

The comment from Libby that Dennis running the marathon won't win her back, aside from being a challenge to the filmmakers to come up with a situation where that could actually happen, has the additional effect of moving the film out of the romantic comedy arena. This is a nice move - it keeps Libby from being presented as just a prize to be won, and running a marathon for a prize is kind of a silly thing to do, anyway. You do that sort of thing to improve and test yourself, not beat someone else, and that's what we see Dennis do - go from slacker man-boy to maybe being someone who can accomplish something.

Pegg and Moran make an entertaining pair of slacker man-boys in the meantime. Pegg plays the excitable, sort of whiny one; he's the victim of all kinds of good slapstick and abuse, while also being kind of off-handedly charming and funny. Moran, on the other hand, plays Gordon just about as dry as is possible; he's got the sort of accent that makes one feel as if they've just been insulted by someone a great deal more learned than is actually the case. Hank Azaria does a really nice job with Whit; for much of the film, the audience is actually inclined to like him. Azaria, director David Schwimmer, and writer Michael Ian Black do a nice job of piling little things on so that the audience feels some of Dennis's natural, if not necessarily fair, annoyance at the very idea of this guy; when he starts doing kind of jerky things, there's the feel that Dennis brings out the worst in him, rather than him just being a bad guy and Libby being unable to see it.

It's interesting that the creative team for this movie is mostly actors - sitcom veteran David Schwimmer directs, Michael Ian Black writes, with Pegg Anglicizing American Black's script. The three of them know their comedy, and tend to approach it by giving people funny things to do rather than just setting up a situation or having the cast read potentially-funny lines. Pegg, especially, tends to act with his whole body here, and just the way he stands when discovering he's locked himself out of his apartment again can draw a laugh. The climactic race itself has a bunch of little gems sprinkled through it, as well - I'll probably giggle during sports coverage for a while, imagining the commentators yelling "Bastard!" during instant replays.

"Run Fatboy Run" isn't sophisticated comedy, and there are some things like Gordon's aversion to pants that maybe play better in the UK than they do in the States. It's got plenty of laughs from start to finish, though, more than enough to make up for the occasional bit that doesn't quite work.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16607&reviewer=371
originally posted: 04/10/08 09:23:35
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/07/09 Baloney Snarky and fun, but forgettable 3 stars
8/24/08 George Barksdale good comedy, good story 4 stars
8/02/08 noops nice movie.. climax was awesome!!!! 5 stars
4/13/08 Will Tingle You cant care about (much less like) main charecter, Pegg does his best with weak script 3 stars
3/28/08 Renee Griffin It was pretty good, I will see again 4 stars
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  28-Mar-2008 (PG-13)
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