Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Friday Film Review: Run Fatboy Run

Run Fatboy Run (2007)
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Sport
Grade: B-

So I’ve started a quest to see more Simon Pegg movies and put this one in my Netflix queue. It’s got a lower star ranking than does “Hot Fuzz” or “Shaun of the Dead” so I went into it with lower expectations. Luckily for me, it exceeded those expectations by being a fun and touching film.

Dennis Doyle (Simon Pegg) is, not to put too fine a point on it, a loser. Five years ago on the day of his wedding to his pregnant girlfriend Libby (the lovely Thandie Newton), he panicked and did a runner. Now he’s discovered that she has someone new in her life and it might be serious. Whit (Hank Azaria) is everything Dennis isn’t: successful, considerate, in shape and the perfect boyfriend plus he loves Dennis and Libby’s son Jake (Matthew Fenton, who is adorable).

[nggallery id=51]

Desperate to get back into Libby’s life, Dennis vows to run the same marathon Whit will be running. The catch? Dennis is in terrible shape and the race is only 3 weeks away. Can he, with the help of Libby’s cousin Gordon (Dylan Moran), who’s bet a bundle on him, and his landlord Mr. Gosdashtidar (the hilarious Harish Patel), shape up and actually have a hope in hell of finishing the race? And if he can, what might that lead to?

Okay, this isn’t quite as good as either “Shaun” or “Fuzz” but it’s charming in its own way. In addition to being a rom com, it’s also about Dennis’s relationship with his son and how Dennis changes himself. Yeah, some of his motivation is the fact that Gordon has bet heavily with a few fairly shady characters on Dennis finishing the race and that Mr. Goshdashtidar can wield a mean spatula to Dennis’s backside to “encourage” his training sessions, but in the end it’s Dennis who makes the decision to try and change himself for the better.

Hank Azaria is fabulous playing the straight man whose layers are slowly peeled away. Part of the tension in the film is wondering if he’s really as great as we first see him to be and worrying over whether Dennis truly has a chance to try and win Libby back. Without turning into a shrew or a hardhearted woman, Thandie Newton gets the exact look of disillusionment with Dennis’s antics needed to convey how badly he hurt her.

The film pokes fun at all the “training to win” movies (watch for Dennis’s first workout session and when he’s trying to drink eggs) then adds Pegg’s own fantastic bits (dealing with the rash he gets “in the scrotal zone” while at work). He plays his character straight which also gets us past some of what would otherwise be silly or cloying moments in the film. The finale of the marathon might strike some as too “feel good” but there’s been enough fun along the way to balance it all out.

If most any other British actors (Hugh Grant’s endless, stuttering romantic comedy roles immediately come to mind) had played Dennis, I doubt I would have enjoyed the film half so much. It’s Pegg’s earnest befuddlement that sells the show. It’s the fact that he begins as such a complete loser (watch for what the little old lady in Libby’s bakery calls him) and really has little room to sink much lower that allows him to rise to the point where we’re cheering him on and hoping for a reconciliation.

I love the fact that the film ends with hope. As the director, David Schwimmer, and Pegg said, the movie could have been sandwiched between two weddings. But instead, they chose to have Dennis win the chance to maybe win Libby back. It’s a feel good ending without us being forced to “feel good.” For those who are beginning to work their way through Pegg’s oeuvre, this is a nice stop along the way.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

15 Comments

  1. Sandy James
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 05:25:58

    Okay. You got me, Jayne. Will have to check this one out. :)

    ReplyReply

  2. Anne Douglas
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 06:08:00

    Simon Pegg = win. I liked this movie too!

    ReplyReply

  3. Jayne
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 06:29:42

    @Sandy James: OMG, a film Sandy hasn’t seen? ::am in shock::

    ReplyReply

  4. Jayne
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 06:32:53

    @Anne Douglas: I also like that the film doesn’t feel like a rehash of either SotD or HF.

    I recently finished watching “Spaced” and could never get past the feeling that it was a lukewarm windup for the better things that followed it.

    ReplyReply

  5. Eliza Evans
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 08:47:54

    I am a fan of Simon Pegg. Question, though — does this movie have a lot of fat jokes or is it just the title? Fat jokes make me rageful.

    ReplyReply

  6. Moira
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 08:53:24

    Loved this movie. I also find Pegg attractive in a He’s-a-geek kind of way.

    ReplyReply

  7. Jayne
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 08:53:39

    @Eliza Evans: Not so many fat jokes. It’s more that he’s so out of shape stamina-wise.

    ReplyReply

  8. Shayera
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 10:02:19

    I just watched this again the other night. I’ve never decided if I like the movie as a whole, but there are lots of parts of the movie that I like.
    I love Dylan Moran’s portrayal of Gordon too. The fight between Dennis and Gordon is one of my favorite bits, actually.

    ReplyReply

  9. Sandy James
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 14:42:40

    @Jayne: Let’s just say…I like to watch movies while I write. And I write A LOT. :)
    Have a super holiday weekend!!

    ReplyReply

  10. Jayne
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 18:26:22

    @Shayera: I totally agree about Gordon adn the fight.

    ReplyReply

  11. Lexxie Couper
    Sep 04, 2010 @ 02:26:19

    There’s so much to like about this film (I should point out I’m a rabid Simon Pegg fan. His Scotty in Star Trek is priceless). The tv news reporter that follows him during the last part of his run just cracks me up.

    A sweet film with just the right amount of bite.

    ReplyReply

  12. Laura Florand
    Sep 04, 2010 @ 09:41:38

    We saw this film a while back and really liked it! I run, so I’m just going to say that there is absolutely no way to go from couch potato to a marathon in 3 weeks (those are your taper weeks!), but it was still a lot of fun.

    ReplyReply

  13. Jayne
    Sep 04, 2010 @ 18:34:04

    @Laura Florand: I know! A co-worker of mine runs marathons (he did Boston in 3 hours 20 minutes), he has run every day for years and trained for his first marathon for – gosh, I don’t know exactly but much longer than 3 weeks. Perhaps I need to shuffle down the street a little faster when I exercise. That way I could eat more chocolate!

    ReplyReply

  14. Jayne
    Sep 04, 2010 @ 18:35:39

    @Lexxie Couper: Pegg is the best thing in “Star Trek” as far as I’m concerned. Here I laughed at his attempts to find a cause to sponser his run.

    ReplyReply

  15. Laura Florand
    Sep 06, 2010 @ 19:45:07

    Chocolate is my sole motivation for running, Jayne. :) I’m pretty sure there’s nothing else on earth that could drive me to it.

    ReplyReply

Leave a Reply


+ 2 = 3

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: