While I’ll admit that Run Fatboy Run has it’s moments and a fair share of big laughs, it’s not recommendable due to the fact that there are more cliches than you can shake a stick at. Pretty much every cliche you can find in any romantic comedy or inspirational sports movie can be found at some point in the film. The first awful ten minutes of Run Fatboy Run, would indicate that you’re in for a long sit. Don’t worry, it’s not that bad and it does pick things up a little. But if Simon Pegg wants to become a movie star-after Hot Fuzz, he’s well on his way – but he’s going to have to pick better projects than this.
If there’s a reason to see Run Fatboy Run, it is for him. Set in London, Fatboy features Pegg as Dennis, a guy who left his pregnant fiancé, Libby (Thandie Newton) at the alter on their wedding day. Of course, the film wouldn’t work at all if he had just completely abandoned her and his unborn son, Jake (Matthew Fenton). Five years later, he tries to be a part of Jake’s life, but there appears to be no hope for Dennis and Libby to get back together, especially since now she has taken in new boyfriend Whit (Hank Azaria), who is apparently God’s gift to women. Wanting to prove himself as a mature and responsible adult and to refute Libby’s statement that he’s never finished anything in his life, Dennis decides to enter the Nike River Run, the 26 mile marathon that Whit is running in.
Run Fatboy Run isn’t in short supply of jokes and because of this, the movie isn’t a drag. Without them, this would probably be a terrible film. The biggest joke however, which involves Dennis popping a giant blister on his foot, goes a little too far. It starts as the film’s biggest laugh and ends as the film’s worst gross out gag. The scenes where Dennis is undertaking grueling exercise and training are humorous and Pegg adds a lot of flavor to the movie. On the contrary, the fact that someone could run an entire marathon after only three weeks of preparation is preposterous. Furthermore, the script by Pegg and Michael Ian Black turns into a series of obstacles, each making Dennis’ completion of the marathon seem more and more impossible; and still there is never any doubt about how things will turn out.
Thandie Newton and Hank Azaria are your standard romcom tools. Their characters are trite to the very core. At times the movie will have the viewer hoping that Whit can play a sincere role in how everything turns out, but in the end, he’s the stereotypical prick we’ve seen countless times in other similar movies. You can compare this trio of characters to that of Mrs. Doubtfire with Robin Williams, Sally Field and Pierce Brosnan.
The film is also not without a few honest moments. Dennis has been forced to come to terms with his giant mistake of leaving Libby at the alter and ruining his chances of a life with her. He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to provide for her or his son but now wishes every day that he could go back and take that chance. There’s a scene where he tells his son that running away from problems doesn’t solve them. Finally, at the end, where the viewer thinks the movie will end happilyy ever after-the end all, beat all of cliches- there is still a question of the relationship status between Dennis and Libby.
Pegg’s first motion picture vehicle away from his Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead team of Edgar Wright and Nick Frost isn’t bad but ultimately frivolous. I was surprised that we don’t see Frost in the best friend supporting role that goes to Dylan Moran instead. I have no doubt that Pegg can make himself a comedic star all on his own, but Run Fatboy Run doesn’t have me convinced that he will.