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Run Fat Boy Run Coasts Along

Published March 27, 2008 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Picturehouse
Run, Fat Boy, Run Poster Run, Fat Boy, Run
Run Fat Boy Run is certainly not the worst movie of the year, not in a year that brought us Over Her Dead Body, One Missed Call, Fool's Gold, Snow Angels and Mad Money. It could be the most mediocre though. It just coasts along with just enough to qualify as a movie, but little more.

Movie Review: Run Fat Boy Run


Perhaps the biggest problem is that the star isn't even fat. Simon Pegg may put on a little tummy, but he ain't fat. So you've already lost the biggest joke of the movie, which would have been watching a fat guy waddle along a marathon.

Pegg plays Dennis, a commitment phobic loser who runs away from Thandie Newton, pregnant on her wedding day. Five years later he's trying to get back into her life, so when her new beau (Hank Azaria) starts talking about the marathons he runs, Dennis decides to gear up.

The film analyzes his psychological incompetence more than his physical one, though there's a little bit of that too. There is some physical ineptitude, but that's solved by training. The film is really about Dennis's propensity for bailing out of commitments, which is also not as funny as just a big fat slob trying to work out.

Run Fat Boy Run makes the most offensive mistake of these types of slacker comedies, which is to just assume that being a sweaty, panicky flake is endearing. It's actually not. Really, it's not. They have to be smart like Vince Vaughn, lovable like Owen Wilson or outrageous like Will Ferrell.

Now, Pegg could do it, but Dennis has no character before his flakiness. He just avoids things because that's what they decided his character trait would be. There's no even sense of what his awesome life was before as an attempt to justify his fear. It's just, "Here's the commitment phobic guy." He has one line that is actually clever to the A-hole fiancé, and that's the only glimmer of the real Simon Pegg in there.



Most of the jokes simply do exactly what they've set up. If someone tells Dennis not to forget something, bet on him forgetting it. If someone tells Dennis to be careful, bet on him falling down. There are no surprise twists our outrageous payoffs. They play a whole comedy scene about people trying to order in a bakery. That's comedy.

There are some amusing complications for applying to the race and finding a charity sponsor. It's obvious, but at least it's something. I must admit I appreciated the itchy scrotum jokes. See, it doesn't take much to amuse me, you've just got to go there. Funny outfits work fine. The big, gross blister is nasty enough. At least it's a real consequence of running.

The film actually gets better as it goes on. It rises from terrible to compellingly average, in that you do want to see the underdog complete the race. There are some montages to get things going. They have fun with the runner clichés.

I do give the film credit for having the female lead acknowledge that this whole plot is just a superficial gesture that still doesn't address his real problems. That's something. And Dennis ultimately owns up to his mistake in a mature way. There is a real character journey, if only the absolutely typical one.

So really, if you wait for the movie on DVD and just skip ahead to when training starts, you'll see a much better version of Run Fat Boy Run. You'll be able to follow along just fine. It's just like everything else. Save yourself the hassle of Act 1.
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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Picturehouse
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