Posted: 03/31/2008


Run Fatboy Run


by Jef Burnham

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Most Americans’ experience with Run Fatboy Run’s star and co-writer, Simon Pegg, has been with the films Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, which he made with co-star Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright. Fans of these films may be disappointed to learn that Run Fatboy Run is more of a basic comedy, albeit an exceptionally enjoyable and hysterically funny one that utilizes any and all types of humor from subtle word play to penis and pus jokes. The film also features a string of cameos from some of BBC’s most popular series.

David (Simon Pegg) is an out-of-shape, loser security guard at a women’s clothing outlet, who has spent his entire life running away from difficult situations, including leaving his pregnant fiancée (Thandie Newton from Crash, Norbit) at the altar. Ironically, after encountering his ex’s new, marathon running boyfriend (played by a surprisingly muscular Hank Azaria), David realizes that running may be the only way to set his life in order. So with a new pair of Nikes and an Erectile Dysfunction Awareness T-shirt, he sets out to run a 26-mile marathon. Overall, the major plot points are pretty predictable, but the dialogue, the performances, and the general feel-good tone more than compensate.

Co-written by Michael Ian Black (Stella, Wet Hot American Summer, and oh so many Sierra Mist commercials) and Simon Pegg, this marks the feature film directorial debut of Friends veteran, David Schwimmer. While Schwimmer’s direction may not be terribly remarkable in any way, there was certainly nothing wrong with it. I could have done with a little less handheld cinematography, but there was far less of it here than in any other movie you might see. The only other problem I had with the film was that some of the music would work perfectly with the beginning of a scene, but become overbearing and out of place as the scene progressed.

Pegg is an incredibly versatile performer, having starred in and written numerous television series for the BBC, including Big Train and Spaced, and his performance here as the titular fatboy is a wonderful showcase for his talents. Dylan Moran, who starred in BBC’s Black Books, as well as Shaun of the Dead with Pegg, all but dominates the film as David’s best friend, Gordon, making even the most mundane bit of dialogue funny. Were his role any bigger, they would have been obligated to put his name in the title. Matthew Fenton, who plays David’s five-year-old son, is also exceptional—very cute and very funny.

Among the lengthy list of cameo appearances are Stephen Merchant, co-writer/director/star of Extras and the UK The Office; David Walliams of the brilliant sketch comedy series Little Britain; and Ameet Chana from EastEnders. Surprisingly not in attendance for a cameo were Nick Frost and the Stella crew (Black, David Wain, and Michael Showalter), who may have been in the background somewhere, but I didn’t see them.

Jef Burnham is a writer and film critic living in Chicago.

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