Run, Fatboy, Run

dir: David Schimmer
[img_assist|nid=82|title=Run, Slightly Overweight Individual, Run|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=400|height=267]
Sure, the title of this flick is a phrase that has been yelled at me by people in passing cars, the police, girlfriends and my own mother, but I’m not bitter about it…

Well, not too bitter.

Simon Pegg is becoming a ubiquitous figure of British comedy, in that a few comedies come out of Britain each year, and he seems to be in at least one of them annually. Yes, that is my new definition of ubiquity.

He’s recognisable, and has a loyal following of fans who find his antics and constant mugging amusing. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are his two most well known roles, but you shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that this flick right here is anything like those other ones.

This should not, nay, MUST not be confused with the comedies Pegg’s been in with Nick Frost and directed by Ed Wright.

Because, in case you missed it, this flick was directed by the tool who used to play Ross on Friends. Yes, the loathsome, the terrible, the horripilating David Schimmer.

This is a fairly lame and lazy romantic comedy, and had it starred someone else I probably would never have bothered seeing it. It does however have some pretty funny people in it, making up for the abjectly pathetic script.

Dennis (Simon Pegg) immediately gets on our bad side by doing something few non-retarded men would ever catch themselves doing: he abandons his fiancé, Libby (Thandie Newton) at the altar. Not only that, but she’s also heavily pregnant at the time. He runs away from the commitment literally.

Let’s face it, this is Thandie Newton we’re talking about. Forget the abandonment issues, this is just abject stupidity.

The story jumps forward five years to a time where Dennis’s life has only increased in patheticness, and he also seems to be wearing a pillow under his shirt to imply that he is overweight. His only friends are Libby’s degenerate cousin Gordon (Dylan Moran), and a curious Indian landlord (Harish Patel) who I was certain was going to hit on Dennis for most of the movie’s duration, until he utters the film’s funniest line.

Dennis lives the life of an absolute shlub, for whom no audience could possibly have any sympathy. To make matters worse, despite having left her at the altar, when Libby enters into a relationship with a charming American (Hank Azaria), he decides that now is the time to somehow prove to Libby, his irritating son and the world that he’s not a complete sack of shit.

To do this he has to run in a marathon.

For all his wonderfulness, the American has to be revealed to be a prick in order for us to supposedly side with Dennis in his pursuit of Libby. Because if they don’t reveal that Whit, as he is unfortunately called, is a puppy-raping granny-puncher, then we really wouldn’t care much one way or another.

Not that we actually do. Montage scenes ensue of Dennis’s training, which is funny to me because on the wall of Dennis’s one-room bedsit there’s a poster from Team America: World Police, which, with puppets, deconstructed montages with the help of a song explaining all the various prerequisites in “It’s a Montage!”

And the montage here follows the pattern to the letter. All the while Dennis keeps getting more and more reasons why he must complete the marathon (nothing so cheesy as winning it is required), more reasons to quit, and more reasons to hate the loathsome Whit.

The humour that ensues from all of this is surprisingly childish, including scenes where a guy sprays some liquid in another guy’s face, and a scene where Dennis tries to combat the chafing in his underpants by scratching his groin against a mannequin’s delicate hand. In truth these scenes did make me smile, albeit unwillingly, but I felt bad about it, if that’s any consolation.

So many films seem to be about men trying to earn the respect of their children and former spouses, so much so that it is a pretty formulaic plot with a pretty predictable trajectory, and thus uninteresting in a comedy unless it’s funny. I would argue that a flick directed by someone as fundamentally unfunny as David Schimmer has no chance of being funny. He is to comedy what Stalin was to cultural sensitivity. Or what Stalin was to comedy, for that matter.

Somehow, because he can be damned funny, and because he sells some of the excruciating dramatic bits, Simon Pegg (and Dylan Moran, who is funnier at his drunken worst than Schimmer is at his sober, flailing best) salvages what should have been an utter disaster. The flick is still a painful entry in the annals of romantic comedic history, because they’re all painful, but it could have been substantially worse.

Especially if Schimmer himself had appeared onscreen. That would have, to use the technical term, really screwed the pooch.

By the flick’s end we’ll know whether Dennis has the intestinal fortitude to shed the pillow under his clothes and change his life in positive ways to show his son and former partner that he is worthy of being loved. Or whether he should be put down like the lame dog that he is.

Because, you know, as someone who’s pretty hefty himself, I always appreciate being told by flicks made by people who have squillions of dollars at their disposal who don’t have to work office jobs, with the benefit of personal trainers and the time, more importantly, to devote themselves to the worship of their own bodies, that the path to self-respect and love is through jogging.

6 times self-destruction has always appealed more to me over self-improvement through fitness, even before I ever saw Fight Club, out of 10

“Mostly I remember all the fucking.” – Run Fatboy Run.