Simon Pegg is single handedly providing British comedy movies with some credibility. I don’t think anyone could look at this statement and claim any fault with it. Both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz received positive reviews and healthy returns resulting in the creative team of Pegg and Frost being taken more seriously both in Hollywood and in the eyes of George Romero (which I’m sure we can all agree is the REAL benchmark). So surely Run, Fat Boy, Run is going to be a surefire hit right? Erm sort of.
Dennis and Libby’s big day has arrived and all is well, Libby (Thandie Newton) is expecting a baby and the wedding cake is layered. That is, until Dennis (Pegg) is gripped by fear and forced to run for his life, leaving wife and wedding in the past. 5 years later and Dennis is having second thoughts as he and Libby share custody of their son, so he decides to try and win her back. Unfortunately he has waited too long and now must pry her from the grasp of handsome, successful Whit (Hank Azaria). The best way to do that, he feels is to beat him in a marathon, but can he be ready in time? Gordon (Dylan Moran), his best friend and Libby’s cousin is determined to help him, putting them both at risk of getting into some big trouble.
Rumor has it this was originally intended to be a Jack Black movie, and I can recognize the bones of what COULD have been a film containing any of the following as its leading man; Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller or Tom Cruise (Sure, He’d still be playing Tom Cruise but he’s become pretty hilarious).
Apparently Simon Pegg got hold of the script, re-wrote it and here I am writing a review for a film that, with perhaps 40 or 50 pages of adjustments to the script could have contained any of the aforementioned actors and a new cast. And this is one of the weaknesses of the movie and the script in general. With the possible exception of Hank Azaria, the entire cast could have been replaced with minimal impact to the finished product. One thing I look for in a movie is to convince me that the actors could not have been played by anyone else, and I don’t get that here, which is a shame.
There are some great laughs and some suitably clever characters such as Dennis’ slightly nutty landlord Mr. Ghoshdashtidar (Go on, pronounce it, I dare you), who help keep things light and entertaining which is about all you can really hope for from such a limited script. Thandie Newton looks incredible and adds an element of class to the proceedings though she lacks chemistry with Hank Azaria. This brings me nicely to Whit, Hank Azaria’s character and Dennis’ rival for Libby’s affection who I felt was the most butchered character in the film. Up to around the halfway point he is so likable I was thinking about giving him a ring to see if he was free for a drink when his character suddenly changes to a vindictive, short tempered jerk. This works well for the script (And Azaria deserves credit for his performance) as no-one in their right mind would pick Dennis over Whit but it is obvious and shallow, detracting from the overall story. Pegg does a suitably satisfying job as Dennis, but he could have phoned in this role and done a similarly palatable job. David Schwimmer does a solid job directing, though you always feel script and budgetary constraints were holding the project back.
Run, Fat Boy, Run isn’t Shaun of the Dead and it isn’t Hot Fuzz, it isn’t presented in the same fashion, the very obvious Pegg/Frost influence on camera work and mise en scene aren’t there. This might be unfair, comparing Run to other Pegg projects as it is is like saying it should be like “Friends” because David Schwimmer directed it. Having said that, I went to see Run, Fat Boy, Run for something unique and while certain characters and moments are one of a kind, the film itself is mostly forgettable. I’m not saying it isn’t worth a watch, just don’t expect too much. I changed my grade for this 3 times before finally settling on a C, I won’t tell you what other grades I thought about giving it because……well I do so love to be mysterious.
The Upside: It’s Simon Pegg baby! Not to mention a host of other British comedy talent.
The Downside: Predictable plot with little to really grab your attention.
On The Side: Simon Pegg and Dylan Moran starred together in an Episode of Black Books (Dylan Morans British comedy series) called ‘Manny Come Home’.