"He does an awful thing, particularly for the female audience.
They'd think: "Why the hell should I like this guy? He's an
asshole!" He just jilted a pregnant woman."
Co-writer and star, Simon Pegg
he has a point. Thirty minutes in to this odd little, startlingly
predictable, unambitious comedy and I was thinking how is
Pegg ever going to get me to feel like he deserves this
girl? Predictable used to be a critical barb. Now, all movies
– excuse me – mainstream movies, unlike 90%
featured on this site, are predictable by definition. The
audience cannot be challenged or short changed or made to
feel anything other than "They got what they came for."
This says a lot about audiences or rather the perception
of audiences. I adore the Billy Wilder quote: "An audience
is never wrong. An individual member of it may be an imbecile,
but a thousand imbeciles together in the dark - that is
critical genius." The audience this evening laughed
in all the right places (I may have smiled once or twice).
As I have mentioned ad nauseum, we know today's mainstream
movies are predictable but if you can get to London from
Cardiff without using the M4 then the movie may just manage
to entertain. There are enough off the beaten track deviances
to make Fat Boy mildly diverting. It's
just that after Shaun of the Dead and Hot
Fuzz, you see Pegg's name and think, hmmm,
something offbeat and worth tuning into (despite his forays
into fan-boy mainstream with turns in Doctor Who and - of all things - the bloated cruise-controlled Mission
Impossible series). I even enjoyed watching him
in the sitcom Hippies. But this one is
so by the book, it feels like a pair of spectacles at bedtime.
hoper, Pegg, jilts Thandie Newton, at the altar, pregnant
with his son. Note, Dylan Moran is Pegg's best man (Moran
does irresponsible, unreliable, skanky slimeball in his
sleep) so either there weren't a lot of best mates to choose
from or he and Pegg have something very special. I had expected
at least a Nick Frost cameo but you can't have everything.
Maybe he was too busy on the crushingly ordinary Hyperdrive sitcom. There are enough cameos, thank you very much. Pegg's
career prospects are not bathed in heavenly Jacob's Ladders.
He's a security guard at a woman's lingerie shop (let's
get Izzard on to the unfairness of that) and cannot even
run down shoplifters. His relationship with his 'son', played
very well by Matthew Fenton (not at all precocious and over
the top) is Pegg's only saving grace. Why those attributes
together should be a baseline supposition for child performers
is beyond me but to my shame I add it as a personal prejudice
anyway. It must be all those US kids' movies I have been
watching for a decade. Yes, the only ace Pegg can play is
how good a father he turns out to be which rather begs the
question, why would he bother to enact paternal duties if
he wanted to run away so badly in the first place? Well,
of course, he's changed his mind and now wants her back.
mark of a clever romantic comedy is finding a likeable and
sympathetic foil or adversary for our hero to overcome.
If the hero's competitor for the heroine's affections is
a prize one jerk then, it's straw dogs, easy to knock over
so no great connection is made with the movie. One of the
worst offenders of this crime was Crocodile Dundee.
Or (and this is the bit that really grinds my teeth down
to the Headless Horseman's proportions) have these marketing
bastards really taken over the asylum? Is this such a normal
staple that audiences would miss it if it were not present
and correct? Well, this is where Fat Boy does a curious thing. In gradual stages, Hank Azaria shows
us his true assholic credentials (won't let Matthew control
a toy boat, gets impatient with the six year old and treats
Pegg like the no hoper he is). Now normally, this would
just be so predictably dull that it would not be worth watching.
But, and here's Pegg's neat little reverse – during
Azaria's smarmy confident arrogance, Pegg paints himself
as a little, spiteful child, just as annoying and silly
as his rival. You kind of hope Thandie ends up with neither
of them and cosies up to her ovens in which she cooks her
produce (she owns a bakery).
script was in development for a number of years with director
(and 'Friend') David Schwimmer attached. Financing eventually
came about which necessitated a London shoot but still,
like Four Weddings etc., the sop to the
great American unwashed has to be offered. It's such an
obvious gesture that you'd think a smart audience would
reject the nonsense out of hand. But of course they don't.
Hungry people will eat anything. So while the oddly talent-challenged
and make up model Andie McDowell became the reason for Four
Weddings's finance (who'd have thought?), the die
was cast or rather the leading cast member was American
no matter where your movie's set. Hank Azaria brings a few
bits of interesting baggage with him. After all we are talking
about Mo, Apu and Chief Wiggum here. If you have no clue
who these fine upstanding folk are then I recommend a book
"How To Cook For Forty Humans"...
the voiceover talent aside, still manages obnoxious American,
quite serviceably. There is (as you may have seen in the
trailer) a literal dick swinging contest between the rivals
and it's all rather low brow and of course, my audience
loved it – "You see my point?" Indeed. But
in the end (ooer, missus), do we care about the insufferably
childish Pegg and his infantile (OK, adolescent) challenge
to run the London Marathon – oops, it was to be the
New York Marathon and oops, they couldn't get (or didn't
want) permission to use the London of the species so guess
what? Some bright industry spark said "Hey, let's advertise
the shit out of 'global-sport-brand' and name the marathon
"The 'global-sport-brand' River marathon"! I could
weep. Movies have dived beneath hell and are looking for
another Dark Lord to service because Satan doesn't cut it
Simon Pegg would die in a marathon. Hank Azaria convinces
that he would comfortably finish. So how could this absurd
premise work? Well, it does to a degree. You have your obligatory
half comedy based, half Rocky-based training montage. Dylan
Moran has bet his physical well-being on his friend completing
the race. Pegg's landlord, a delightful, full bodied turn
by Harish Patel, uses a spatula to great effect. Given the
cast, I was delighted our Indian character had no reason
to say "Thank you, come again." His gorgeous daughter
delivers the ultimatum – finish or you're out, no-rent
paying boy. So begins the race of his life.
I won't spoil it if you enjoy this light, airy fare because
there are a few nice surprises along the way. Yes, Run,
Fat Boy, Run does (on its predictable course) stop
off at some all to obvious points but there is enough charm
to carry it over the finish line.