New Line // 2008 // 100 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 23rd, 2008
Love. Commitment. Responsibility. There's nothing he can't run away from.
From Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz) and Michael Ian Black (Stella) and first-time director David Schwimmer, a story about a slacker who tries to impress his son and ex-girlfriend by running in a London marathon, before eventually succumbing to romcom formula.
Pegg is Dennis Doyle, said fatboy and renowned underachiever. When he's not scraping by as a security guard for a women's clothing store, he's spending time with his son and keeping any eye on Libby (Thandie Newton), his son's mother, and her flashy, dip@#$% new boyfriend (Hank Azaria).
To his horror, it appears that Dennis may have lost all his chances to reunite with Libby, unless he can prove to her that he does indeed have the ability to finish something he's started. The opportunity presents itself when Dennis learns of marathon and propelled by his rivalry with Libby's new beau, a world-class runner, he gets himself sponsored by an erectile dysfunction charity and begins training for the most grueling day of his life.
Simon Pegg can pretty much do no wrong, and seeing that he had paired with Michael Ian Black, another creative talent I hold in high regard, I had some lofty expectations for their joint venture. Unfortunately, Run, Fatboy, Run is a saccharine, predictable affair, featuring very few surprises and not enough belly laughs to keep it from being sucked into the Abyss of Forgotten Romantic Comedies.
While I like the idea of a man-child (Dennis) forcing himself to grow up and face reality, it's a conceit we've seen plenty of times, done with a defter touch humor-wise. If it weren't for Simon Pegg's considerable charm, this character would have vaporized down the memory hole as soon as the end credits roll. So you're pissed because your ex-girlfriend is shacking up with a stud? Stop whining and do something about it.
And even when he does finally do something about it -- running the race -- the melodramatic punch is dulled by the crippling effect of the story's predictability. Wow, the perfect-at-first-glance guy is really a gigantic a-hole, huh? And Dennis's son shares that viewpoint and lets fly with some cutesy, pretentious remarks and may in fact help sway his mom, who seems to be oblivious to this guy's dickery? And because of Dennis's verve and willpower and indomitable human spirit, he has a chance to persuade Libby to give him another shot?
Look, I'm all for stories of lazy guys working hard to turn their life around and steal the love of their life from her douchebag boyfriend. That's great. I've just seen it so many times before and if anyone was going to put a spin on a tired formula I thought Pegg and Black would be able to. Alas, I'll just have to settle for a derivative, generic romantic comedy sprinkled with a handful of laugh-out-loud moments.
At least the formula looks great in high-definition. The 2.40:1 transfer is strong throughout, and while it may not be reference quality, the visual bump is noticeable. The big race at the end benefits from the 1080p transformation, with the details in the crowd scenes and the London backdrop coming through especially well. A clean, colorful treatment from start to finish. A Dolby Digital 7.1 track supplements and, like in most comedies, has little to do besides projecting dialogue through the center. You'll get some ambient surround work during the race, footsteps and so forth, but that's about it. Extras: a feature commentary with Schwimmer, Pegg, and Newton, deleted scenes in HD, outtakes, some trailers and some on-set footage of a practical joke Thandie Newton plays on Simon Pegg.
A few laughs and a memorable gross-out gag involving a blister and a geyser of pus can't save Run, Fatboy, Run from mediocrity.
Sorry, but guilty. I don't care how cute your son is.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (Widescreen)
* Dolby Digital 7.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes
* Thandie's Goof