Run, Fat Boy, Run [DVD]
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A slightly different slant on the 'slacker' comedy genre directed by 'Friends' star David Schwimmer. Five years ago Dennis (Simon Pegg) was at the altar about to marry Libby (Thandie Newton), his pregnant fiancee. He got cold feet and headed for the hills, and he's been going in circles ever since. When Dennis discovers Libby's now hooked up with high-flying go-getter Whit (Hank Azaria), he realises it's now or never. Assisted by his friend Gordon (Dylan Moran), he decides to enter a marathon to show he's not a quitter but then finds out just how much sweat, strain and pain it takes to run for 26 miles. No one rates his chances, but Dennis knows this is the only way to stop being a running joke.
Simon Pegg is clearly, right now, someone who can do little wrong at the box office. Run Fatboy Run follows hot on the heels of Hot Fuzz, and again finds its star delivering a quality comedy turn, in a film that boasts a good few laughs too.
Directed by Friends star David Schwimmer, Run Fatboy Run casts Pegg as a security guard fed up of being outrun by the people hes supposed to catch. Hes also determined to try and prove to his ex-fiancee (Thandie Newton) that hes a changed man, and thus decides to take on the London Marathon, where hell be up against the new man in her life (Hank Azaria).
Pegg is on good form in Run Fatboy Run, and genuinely delivers a character you want to root for. Yet its the supporting players who walk off with the plaudits too. Dylan Moran in particular is in great form, as is Harish Patel, while the likes of Thandie Newton, Hank Azaria and David Walliams also turn in good work.
Cleverly knowing not to outstay its welcome, and only occasionally stuttering under the weight of some laboured work behind the camera from Schwimmer, Run Fatboy Run is an easy, quite funny and light on the brain comedy, that helps cement Peggs growing status as a quality leading actor. Worth checking out. --Jon Foster
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The basic premise is that Pegg is a well-meaning loser, who five years previously (literally) ran away from his wedding to his pregnant fiancé (Thandie Newton). Now, she's hooked up with oh-too-perfect Hank Azaria. Learning that Azaria is to run an upcoming marathon, Pegg insists that he too will run the marathon, in a bid to woo Newton back.
This film seems to have had a lot of criticisms in that it is not like Pegg's previous modern classic, 'Shaun of the Dead', and its (underrated) follow-up 'Hot Fuzz', which in turn were natural successors to TV's wonderful 'Spaced'. Well, I won't pretend for a moment that 'Fat Boy...' is anywhere on the same level of those wonderful, reference-laden offerings. BUT - it doesn't pretend to be. This is a totally different kind of story, a slightly gentler, character-based tale. Besides, wouldn't it be boring if Pegg did exactly the same kind of film all the time?!
The cast generally do well. I couldn't really warm to Newton's character, but there was enough else going on for this not to matter too much. Azaria (in case you can't place him, amongst various film roles, he does a lot of 'Simpsons' voices) isn't really in one of his best roles, but gets the job done. Although I liked 'Black Books', I've never really been a fan of Dylan Moran (who appeared with Pegg in 'Shaun of the Dead'), I generally find him too shouty; but here I actually found him quite amusing, and would say this is one of his better roles. But the highlight of the main cast, for me, is Harish Patel, as Pegg's landlord-come-trainer. Patel is great fun, and lights up every scene he appears in.
The direction is handled ably by David Schwimmer (who Pegg starred alongside in 2006's 'Big Nothing', which I would recommend if you like your comedy very black and with a lot twists). Only at a few points in the middle do things start to sag slightly, but thankfully they soon pick themselves up again. About fifty minutes in, the story does turn into more of a comedy-drama (which is why some may be against this film), but things still proceed along nicely. There are few real surprises in the plot, but even so, I did find the climatic scenes pleasing.
There are also a number of cameos to look out for, including David Walliams (as a very similar character to his Mr. Mann persona in 'Little Britain'), and Ricky Gervais' associate Stephen Merchant, to name but two. But an unexpected highlight for me was to spot children's TV legend Floella Benjamin as Newton's mother. She only has a couple of lines and appears only briefly, but I wish they had utilised her more!
The comedy is generally more straightforward than say, 'Shaun...', but there are still some good moments. However, I did feel that it couldn't always decide on the type of comedy it was going for - prime example being Moran piercing a truly massive blister on Pegg'' foot, causing it to squirt everywhere (leading to several off-colour remarks). Fairly amusing, but I found this sort of humour to be out of kilter with the film's general tone.
Although not a solid classic - maybe it would have fared better as a TV movie - I still really enjoyed this film, and give it a decent four stars. Pegg and Nick Frost are returning in the forthcoming 'The World's End' - but in the meantime, don't limit yourself, give some of Pegg's different kinds of comedy, such as this, a try.
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Man, this film really is by the numbers - predictable, clichéd, hackneyed, stereotypical, and above all contrived, in both story and...Read more