Length: 100 minutes
Director: David Schwimmer (“Friends”; “Joey”)
Writers: Michael Ian Black (“The State”; “Stella”) and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead; Hot Fuzz)
Starring: Simon Pegg, Thandie Newton, Hank Azaria, Dylan Moran, Harish Patel, India de Beaufort, Matthew Fenton, Stephen Merchant
The first thing that caught my eye when I saw the ad for “Run Fat Boy Run” in this week’s Folio was the critic quote “”Shaun of the Dead” meets “Wedding Crashers”!”) Let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. The only connection/resemblance with “Shaun of the Dead” are actor/writer Simon Pegg and fellow co-star Dylan Moran. You’d be very hard pressed to find any sort of resemblance to “Wedding Crashers”. Instead, you have an extremely familiar guy loses girl & family/guy tries to win back girl & family comedy/drama. Strange considering the script is penned by Pegg, who wrote the extremely clever “Shaun” and “Hot Fuzz” (which I thought was overrated, but many liked), and co-written by “The State”’s Michael Ian Black. The fault surely has to fall on first time feature film director David Schwimmer- aka ‘Ross Gellar’ from the TV show “Friends”. The movie follows such a sitcom formula that it could have only been helmed by someone so familiar with how sitcoms work (indeed, Schwimmer broke his directing teeth on episodes of “Friends” and it’s doomed spin-off “Joey”). Pegg himself stars as Dennis. As the film opens, Dennis is hauling ass from the altar as his pregnant bride-to-be Libby (Thandie Newton) screams at him to come back. Fast forward five years later and Dennis is a loser, though not as fat as the title claims. During a visit to pick up his son Jake (Matthew Fenton), he discovers Libby has finally moved on with charming American Whit (Hank Azaria). What to do? Beat Whit at what he does best- run a marathon! Quite conveniently the “Nike River Run” is taking place in London and Dennis signs up to prove to Libby and Jake that he can be just as great as Whit can be. Not too hard to guess where things go from there. Dennis’ best mate, Gordon (Dylan Moran- stealing every scene he’s in), his grumpy landlord (Harish Patel), and the landlord's beautiful daughter (a stunning India de Beaufort) work together to get Dennis in shape. Oh and it doesn’t hurt that Gordon has a bit of money riding on Dennis finishing the race either. “Run Fat Boy Run” was a hit in Britain where the “underdog” formula seems to never fail and now it’s being brought over to the U.S. to try to break it big (didn’t work- the film didn’t even crack the top ten in it’s first week). The problem is in that marketing. The crowd that the movie is trying to pull in with it’s “Shaun of the Dead”/”Wedding Crashers” gimmick aren’t going to be very pleased. The advertisers should be pulling for fans of movies like “The Full Monty” or “Bend It Like Beckham”. Still, odds are even they won’t be too impressed.