RUN FATBOY RUN
Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Simon Pegg, Thandie
Newton, Hank Azaria, Dylan Moran, Harish Patel
Director: David Schwimmer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1, Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: New Line Cinema
Features: See Review
Length: 100 Minutes
Release Date: September 23, 2008
ďThe only concrete thing we do know is that heís running for erectile dysfunction.Ē
Simon Pegg, soon to be the new Scotty in the upcoming Star Trek feature film, is a true comedic discovery following the back-to-back successes of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, two amazing genre-bending comedies that he also co-wrote. Any future project that bears his name will a film I will eagerly see. For me, Pegg is a talent who can simply do no wrong.
Thus, I was very eager to see Run Fatboy Run, which Pegg both co-wrote and stars in. And though I certainly wasnít expecting anything at the level of Hot Fuzz, I certainly wasnít expecting a more formulaic outing. The movie isnít without laughs, a few of which are even at a gut-busting caliber, but they are mostly overshadowed by a predictable story structure weíve seen way too many times.
The story opens with Dennis (Pegg) about to tie the knot with longtime and pregnant girlfriend, Libby (Thandie Newton). However, he gets a bad case of cold feet and turns into the runaway groom. How one could even consider leaving a beauty like Ms. Newton standing at the altar is a mystery to me.
Cut to five years later, and the cowardly Dennis is working struggling through life as a security guard. However, he has grown to be something a decent father to his son, Jake (Matthew Fenton). And as it turns out, the relationship between him and Libby isnít as disastrous as one might expect.
However, she has a new boyfriend in her life, Whit (Hank Azaria). Though he doesnít come across as a total jerk, he is something of an overachiever. Of course, Dennis canít stand him at all.
The centerpiece of the story involves Dennis wanting to compete against Whit in an upcoming marathon known as that Nike River Run. The one thing I respected about the story arc, in spite of the predictability, is that Dennis isnít exactly competing to win back Libby or prove that heís better than Whit. Heís doing it for his sonís love and respect.
Other than that nice little story touch, thereís not a whole lot of surprises in Run Fatboy Run. Right from the get-go, I could pretty much tell how the story was going to play out. And sure enough, my predictions were correct.
Nearly every supporting character in Dennisí life gets involved with his training for the marathon. Even his landlord, Mr. Ghoshdashidar (Haris Patel), who was only concerned about his rent money in the first half of the movie, becomes no less than Dennisí coach. And at no point does the movie feel like itís poking fun at this situation, which you think would be the path for a movie that Simon Pegg co-wrote and stars in.
But I did get a number of laughs throughout the movie, most of them sight gags that seem to work on me after 20 years. And when the movie does try to turn up the emotional factor involving the relationship between Dennis and his son, it works a lot more than you think. And I will say this for David Schwimmer, of TVís Friends, the guy does have a future as a director.
This release from New Line boats an exceptional, if not all too spectacular, anamorphic picture (Full Screen version also included). Some scenes appear much more saturated than they need to be, or maybe thatís a flaw within the movie itself. Whatever the case, the overall picture is of just good quality. Some instances of softness here and there, but nothing too distracting.
The 5.1 mix does a good job, mostly with the enormous collection of rock songs on the soundtrack. Other than that, this is more of a dialogue-oriented comedy, and the spoken words sound most terrific. Some physical comedy gags play off really good, as well.
Included on this New Line release is a commentary by Simon Pegg, Thandie Newton, Gill Pegg (Simon's Mom) and director David Schwimmer. Also featured are Deleted Scenes, Thandie's Goof (a prank Ms. Newton played on Pegg during a press junket), Outtakes and Theatrical Trailers.
I had some fun with Run Fatboy Run, but with the talent involved I kept wondering how better the film wouldíve been had a different direction been taken with the material. Itís good for some belly laughs here and there, and you arenít as forgiving as I am for a predictable story arc, then you might have fun with it.