Sunday, March 23, 2008

Run, Fatboy, Run

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Groom with Cold Feet Seeks Second Chance in British Sitcom

On what was supposed to have been their wedding day, Dennis (Simon Pegg) bolted from the church at the last minute, leaving his pregnant fiancĂ©e, Libby (Thandie Newton), standing at the altar. It seems that the reluctant groom had developed cold feet because he didn’t think he deserved a girl that gorgeous, given that he’s an overweight, chain-smoking slacker.
But now, five years later, he wants a second chance because he’s still in love with Libby and realizes the error of his ways. However, that will be easier said than done, since she’s presently involved with Whit (Hank Azaria), a filthy rich hedge fund manager who wants to marry her, too.
What’s worse, the debonair American has plans to whisk his ex away from London to Chicago which means Dennis won’t get to see much of their four year-old son, Jake (Matthew Fenton). Furthermore, there are signs that the boy has already begun to bond with his father’s competitor who has a more easygoing nature.
So, in his mind, Dennis feels that he has to prove himself Whit’s equal both to win Libby’s heart and the admiration of his child. Trouble is, he can’t begin compete in terms of money and career, since he’s a lowly-paid security guard at a lowly clothing store and is behind on paying the rent on his modest basement apartment.
Then, when he learns at Libby’s birthday party that Whit will be running in the upcoming London Marathon, Dennis impulsively announces that he’ll be entering the race as well. Woefully out of shape, he knows he’ll have to adopt a rigorous training regimen just to finish, let alone prevail.
Will Dennis beat Whit in the Nike River Run along the Thames River? And if so, will that feat be enough to impress Libby and little Jake? Those are the questions posed by the premise of Run, Fatboy, Run, a romantic comedy which marks the impressive directorial debut of David Schwimmer, best known as Ross from the long-running NBC series “Friends.”
His hard to pigeonhole picture pairs the delightful Thandie Newton with cult favorite Simon Pegg, star of such offbeat adventures as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Most of the jokes come at the expense of Pegg’s character via a combination of the comedian’s trademark slapstick, sight gags and self-effacing humor. But like the best of British sitcoms, ala Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral, the film also features inspired performances by members of the ensemble’s talented supporting cast, most notably, Dylan Moran as Dennis’ loyal buddy, Gordon, and Harish Patel as his meddlesome landlord, Mr. Ghoshdashtidar.
Dividing its attention equally between the love triangle and overcoming-the-odds theme, Run, Fatboy, Run is well enough crafted to keep you in stitches while on the edge of your seat for the duration, even if this laff-a-minute escape is more mindless than cerebral. Does Dennis get Libby and his son in the end? That would be unfair to divulge, given the completely unpredictable resolutions of some of Mr. Pegg’s prior productions.

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for crude humor, profanity, sexuality, nudity and smoking.
Running time: 97 minutes
Studio: Picturehouse

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