Run, Fatboy, Run review by Cinema Guru Boy

Coming off two clever genre-spoof in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, it's reasonable to think Simon Pegg might use a similar formula applied to new material, thus doing what he knows works, yet keeping the material fresh. And it seems as if he picked a very workable subject, that of the sports film, the under-dog overcoming the odds. He did, after all, write Run, Fatboy, Run, along with The State alum Michael Ian Black. However, this ended up being a complete departure from the aforementioned films, which have garnered a successful cult following, which has translated into mainstream success. Instead, it seems as he aimed directly for the mainstream, departing from his British collaborators Edgar Wright and Nick Frost, instead enlisting Americans Black and David Schwimmer, appearently wanting a more Hollywood feel, which makes the film suffer, relagating it to a generic romantic comedy.

The basic premise of Fatboy is that Dennis (Simon Pegg) runs out on his pregnant fiance, Libby (Thandie Newton), leaving her at the altar. The action picks up five years later, as Dennis is still in Libby's life, being the father of her child, Jake (Matthew Fenton). He obviously wants her back, but a new beau is entered into the equation, the superficially perfect Whit (Hank Azaria), who happens to be a marathon runner. In order to prove his sense of commitment, the man who's defining characteristic is laziness decides to run the 26.2 mile run. Along with his colorfully wacky sidekicks, Dennis sets out to win his ex-fiance back.

However, it falls into all the contrivances that generic romantic comedies do. Granted, the plot is understandably predictable, as most rom-coms are, but the problem lies with the predicatability of the jokes. At times, the punchline is actually revealed before the set-up. It's difficult to see the benefit in this method, as it provides cheap laughs, and only offers low-brow humor. What audiences saw in the Edgar Wright collaborations is woefully missing here. There is no clever homage, or gentle build-up, or witty misdirection. Everything is pretty much right on the surface. This should probably be blamed on director David Schwimmer. The bulk of his directorial experience lies with multiple episodes of Friends and its spin-off Joey. These never called for any real vision, but rather had the director hold the camera still while the jokes in the script took control of the comedy. Appearently, Schwimmer believes he's still directing three-camera sit-coms. The humor would have been totally lost if not for the brilliant comedic talents of Pegg and Dylan Moran, one his sidekicks. Their facial expressions, reaction shots, and physical comedy worked wonders. However, it wasn't enough to pull the overall product up very much.

The writing was, as stated, generally pretty generic. However, there were nice character arcs associated with Dennis and Whit. But Libby was pretty static. Newton used to do brilliant work with juicy characters, however her recent string of attempting mainstream projects such as this one, Norbit and The Pursuit of Happyness have provided her with thin, fllimsy characters that ask her to do little more than show up and stand in front of the camera. Rom-coms with interesting female characters like Sally of ...When Harry met Sally have faded from oblivion. The writers obviously wanted to focus on the male characters, coupling with the sports theme, thus appealing to male audiences. So be it. They included the generic devices of sports montages and the underdog aura to fuel the film. If it weren't for the jokes, the writing would be a complete loss. Unfortunately, the jokes were executed poorly.

If Pegg hadn't acted in this, there wouldn't have been much saving grace. Moran and Azaria played off him well, and I don't think that chemistry could have been achieved with most people in this role. And I'm pretty sure he could be funny reading a phone book. So chuckles are there, it just seems like there should be more.

But, that's just, like, my opinion, man.

4 out of 10 Jackasses
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