‘Fatboy’ Makes a Bad Run

Courtesy of PICTUREHOUSE ENTERTAINMENT

Courtesy of PICTUREHOUSE ENTERTAINMENT

“Run Fatboy Run,” David Schwimmer’s directorial debut, is another in a string of schlubby-guy-doesn’t-really-deserve-to-get-the-girl-but-improves-just-enough-to-get-the-girl-anyway comedies (see also: “Knocked Up”). It fits into genre of desperate guy must do X in order to get Y, in which X is some sort of ludicrous task that pretty much only makes movie sense as opposed to real-life sense.
In the case of “Run Fatboy Run,” the lead character must run the fictional Nike Product Placement River Marathon in order to prove that he actually can finish something in his life and win back his ex-fiancée/baby mama. It’s as if the plot of the film was made with wacky comedy mad libs. A guy who works as a security guard (profession) at a women’s clothing store (place) must run a marathon (unusual task) in order to win back a girl who works at a bakery (place where cute girls work).
The film seems to get more predictable as it gets closer to its conclusion, partly out of necessity, and partly out of laziness. Many of the jokes hit on the same notes as many other sophomoric comedies, e.g. jokes about erectile dysfunction, penis size and farts.
Having said all that, the saving grace of this film is the highly likeable cast. While many of the characters fall into specific archetypes (e.g. humorous ethnic neighbor, loveable libertine, slacker hero) the actors bring a certain depth and charm to the characters that still make them fun to watch. Simon Pegg is setting up to be the type of leading man who isn’t just a great comedian, but is also a great actor (see also: Steve Carell, Hugh Grant and Will Ferrell). Every bit of anguish and joy can be read on his face better than any bit of dialogue could convey and any scene with Pegg and the actor playing his young son is sure to make your heart grow three sizes.
As a director, Schwimmer does a good job (at least in the first half) of setting up nice, sweet moments that come to an abrupt halt with a bit of humor in order to keep them from getting too saccharine. The film seems to shine whenever it goes against the tropes that form the base of its plot and lets the characters breathe, but it unfortunately doesn’t do this as often as it should. Mostly the film doesn’t contain many rolling-on-the-floor-laughing moments, but it does leave you smiling much of the time. “Run Fatboy Run” teeters just on the edge of brilliance, but its lackluster scripting holds it back. Wait to see it at the dollar theater in its second run.