Review: Run Fatboy Run
PLOT: Five years after running out on his pregnant fiancť on the day of their wedding, Dennisí life seems to have fallen apart. He is late on his rent, he keeps making mistakes with his five-year-old son, and his ex has finally moved on with her new Mr. Right, a professional gentleman named Whit. While still a part of his childís life, he begins to regret his decision to run off on that fateful day more and more, and with the new guy, his heartache only gets worse. When he finds that Whit is running in a marathon, he comes up with the crazy idea to attempt to finish the race and hopefully earn the respect of his son and the woman he loves.
Poor Dennis (Simon Pegg) has made a big mistake. Suffering some major anxiety on the day of his wedding, instead of waiting for Libby (Thandie Newton) his bride to be to walk down the aisle, he takes off running. We donít know the reason for it at the time, but we do find that his wife is very pregnant and obviously devastated as he runs off into the sunset. Five years pass and the two still correspond, and Dennis loves his son Jake (Matthew Fenton) with whom he gets to spend time every so often. For all intents and purposes, Dennis is now a wreck of a man who is clearly still in love with Libby. But she has moved on and found the perfect man. Whit (Hank Azaria) is a man of means and far and away above Dennisí league. All this is wrapped around a sincere and surprisingly good romantic comedy about what happens when you take control of your life.
You see, Dennis is not near what the new guy is. But the two meet and Whit talks about how he is about to run a marathon. And of course, in order to prove his love, the two end up in a race to see who is the better man. Predictable, yes. But thanks to Mr. Simon Pegg, what could be a despicable character becomes a very sympathetic underdog. One who you donít mind rooting for. He is able to make Dennis a very real and worthwhile underdog. Aside from a couple of over-the-top slapstick moments, this is a real man who made a mistake. He loves Libby and his son and we soon find out that he may just be able to do anything he wants to get her respect. And even the reason he left her in the first place is a bit heartbreaking. The more you get to know Dennis, and the more you see how much he loves his son, itís hard not to feel compassion for the man. But I canít help but feel that very few actors that arenít named Simon Pegg could have pulled this off.
True, this is far off from his work with Edgar Wright, with HOT FUZZ and SHAUN OF THE DEAD. This is a straight forward romantic comedy. But in lieu of fart jokes and potty humor, the funny bits include this man who seems to have the worst luck in the world. I also felt that the supporting characters were incredibly fun, including Gordon (the scene stealing Dylan Moran), Dennisí best friend, and of course the landlord who keeps reminding the lonely man that he owes rent, Mr. Ghoshdashtidar (Harish Patel). Both of these gentleman work beautifully with Simon. I was a little worried early on when introduced to Mr. Patelís character, I figured it would be a bunch of stereotype jokes that didnít add up to much. But luckily, the script by Michael Ian Black and Simon Pegg didnít resort to that.
Although this is a sweet and clever romantic comedy, not all of it works. Occasionally, a couple of the jokes fell flat. Most notably, how Dennis always forgets his keys. But thankfully, before it got really stale, he seemed to remember them and didnít have the problem anymore. I also felt when the rare slapstick moments came along that the film was better than that, and they were not funny, only kind of distracting. But these complaints do not take away from what really worked in the film. And what really worked is the family dynamic of these characters. I was rooting for Dennis, Libby and Jake and at times, I was waiting for Whit to mess up so these crazy kids could find love. But even the ending is not half as clichťd as it could have been.
What could have been a cheap trick of a movie that disguised itself as a romantic comedy, ends up being a funny and very charming comedy. All of the performances are terrific, and could Thandie Newton be any more beautiful? I think not. If you are a fan of Simon, I highly recommend this, but you need to realize that this is not SHAUN OF THE DEAD or HOT FUZZ. This is a true to heart romcom that may feel a little too heartfelt if that is not your cup of tea. My rating 8/10 -- JimmyO