Friday, March 28, 2008

Run, Fatboy, Run

“He runs marathons.”

Dennis (Simon Pegg) is a loser. He spends his days working as a mall security guard and his nights alone in his crappy basement apartment being scolded by his landlord Mr. Ghoshdashtidar (Harish Patel) and his buxom daughter (India de Beaufort).

It wasn’t always this way, however. Dennis was once engaged to the beautiful and caring Libby (Thandie Newton), that is until he ran from their wedding leaving her pregnant and alone at the altar.

Years later Dennis, still not over Libby, faces her new boyfriend (Hank Azaria), a succcessful business man who seems both his ex and his son (Matthew Fenton) are starting to fall for. To prove himself to Libby, Dennis signs-up for the charity marathon and attempt to beat Whit and win back his family.

The cast is pretty good across the board, and that’s a good thing because the writing leaves something to be desired. Still, you really have to wonder about casting Simon Pegg, who is not fat, in the title role here. I guess the title “Run, Jerkface, Run” didn’t have the same ring to it.

Pegg, despite being the wrong physical type for the role, does carry it, even through its more crazy moments. It’s the film’s paint-by-number plot and forced cheap jokes which keep getting in the way. And it’s too bad because somewhere deep down there’s a good film bursting to get out.

At the beginning of the film Dennis is a jerk, but still a loving father and mostly nice guy. Whit however is more successful, more athletic, more caring, and more altruistic. What is Dennis to do against such a man? A smarter film might have focused on Dennis finding a new way to become part of his son’s life or become friends with his ex, or simply growing up and bettering himself. Unable to find a way to deal with these issues logically the film falls back on the tired cliché of making Whit a closet Jekyll and Hyde bastard who completely changes when, and only because, the plot asks him to.

Also troubling are all the forced “laughs” throughout the film. It’s almost as if someone told the writers they needed a joke every six pages to keep the audience’s attention - whether the plot called for one or not. And so we end up with scenes including one character (Dylan Moran) taking a bath in Whit’s apartment during a dinner party, or Dennis bursting a puss-filled blister all over his friend’s face. What do these events, and the numerous others like them, have to do with the story and furthering the plot? Absolutely none, which is exactly the amount of humor they add to the film.

Run, Fatboy, Run doesn’t start off as a predictable average romantic comedy, but it sure races it’s way into becoming one. I won’t tell you not to see it, but with the amount of talent it wastes I simply can’t recommend the film.

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