Last night I went to a screening for the Young Friends of the Lincoln Center Film Society of the new movie, Run, Fat Boy, Run, directed by David Schwimmer.
I knew absolutely nothing about this film before I went to see it other than it starred Simon Pegg who I have liked since his days playing Jools in Faith in the Future (also starring Julia Sawahla of Ab Fab fame), and Thandie Newton. All I can say is I haven't laughed so hard at a film in ages. This movie was even funnier and more poignant than Knocked Up, which I liked but didn't wholly buy into.
One tiny flaw in the film is that Simon Pegg isn't really fat, he's just a tad overweight. It was interesting that David Schwimmer said during the discussion afterwards that he had tried to set up the film in the States starring either Paul Giamatti or Philip Seymour Hoffman, but the studios wouldn't go for it (This must have been before Hoffman won his Academy Award and Giamatti was nominated). Either would have been as Dennis, but probably not quite as funny as Simon Pegg.
The plot in a nutshell concerns Dennis Doyle, an amiable slacker who panics on his wedding day to his pregnant girlfriend Libby (played by Thandie Newton). Instead of walking down the aisle, he climbs out the window and runs away. Five years later, he's living in a grotty bedsit in Hackney, and working as a security guard for a women's clothing store. Meanwhile Libby (short for Elizabeth, why is it that no one has ever shortened by name to something cool like Libby or Beth? People automatically go for Liz. Blech! Although Libby Mahon doesn't really work.) owns a really cool bake shop that's going like gangbusters, and is dating a rich hedge fund manager played with appropriately smarmy charm by Hank Azaria (his pimped out pad in this movie is to day for). Dennis meanwhile hangs out with Libby's cousin Gordon (played by Dylan Moran from the BBC sitcom Black Books who steals the movie), who is even more of a slacker than he is, not even bothering to have a job, spending his days playing poker.
Dennis is such a slacker that he takes his son Jake to see the new Lord of the Rings musical without tickets, having relied on Gordon to get them. He ends up getting arrested for buying from a scalper in front of his son. Libby has had enough, and reems him out about his irresponsibility. Dennis of course still hankers after Libby, and decides the only way to win her back is by running a 26 mile charity marathon (perfect beau Whit is also a marathon runner as well).
I won't spoil the ending, but I can tell you that even though there is nothing really new in this movie (it's the classic boy meets girl, boy leaves girl at alter, boy must redeem himself and grow up to win back girl), the charm of the performances is what makes this movie work. Yeah, it might have been interesting to see the movie the way Michael Ian Black envisaged it set in New York but setting the film in London gives it a freshness that perks up what could have been a tired story.
In the discussion afterwards, Michael Ian Black admitted that he wrote the film because he thought, Fat Guy Running a Marathon would be hysterical. It's a great pitch which is why the script probably sold in the first place. And David Schwimmer did a great job directing a movie with a miniscule budget. Just the fact that he managed to film the marathon scenes in a day is a testament to his skill.
What a smart career move on his part to move into directing. Let's face it, it's going to take awhile for people to stop seeing him as Ross Geller from Friends. Focusing on independent film, and theater is as smart a move as Courtney Cox's decision to play a ball-busting tabloid editor. If only Jennifer Aniston were as choosy about what movies she picks instead of just doing everything that comes across her desk.
Can I just say that Thandie (pronounced Tandy as David Schwimmer pointed out) is probably one of the tiniest women I've ever seen? I mean she looks thin in pictures but up close she's all head on top of this tiny little body. Incredibly beautiful with gorgeous skin but tiny, and I don't think she's anorexic or anything, I just think she's naturally thin, but she also a little underweight to look good on camera. Her husband was with her, and he's terribly cute. Their kids must be absolutely gorgeous.
What was great about her role in the film was A) she had more of a character than she did in the Will Smith film, and B) she got to play a biracial woman which she is in real life.
So I give this movie an A-. The minus is for calling the movie, Run Fat Boy Run, when Simon Pegg is just slightly out of shape.
Thanks for reading,