Consider, first of all, the pedigree of the comedy, ‘Run, Fatboy, Run’. On screen, we have the remarkable comedic talent of Simon Pegg. He of ‘Hot Fuzz’ and soon to be seen in the new Star Trek film, Pegg’s blends his comic timing with his brand of physical comedy really well. Others may come up with funnier lines, but his body language has the ability to say all that is needed to be said.
And then we have Hank Azaria, who has done a relatively wide range of roles in his career. On screen, I will always forever think of the Godzilla movie that he was in. I say on screen, because off the screen, I also always think of Moe from the Simpsons when I hear his voice. It’s not too surprising, given that he has given voice to the character, and has been doing so for a very, very long time. The two leads, then, have a track record that is as impeccable as any when it comes to comedy.
Speaking of off-the-screen, we finally come to the director, David Schwimmer. He needs no introduction, given how big a star he for ten years on one of the biggest and most popular sitcoms of all time. Though he started his directing chops directing a few episodes of ‘Friends’ before that run came to an end, I am still finding it hard to reconcile with the fact that Ross is now a filmmaker 🙂
So what you have, then, is a bunch of really good cooks in the kitchen. But what is the dish being served up? That dish is probably eaten eaten by the ‘fat boy’ of the movie, Dennis Doyle (Pegg). About to marry the love of his life, Libby (Thandie Newton), who also happens to be pregnant with his son, he gets cold feet. Thus, he does a runner, leaving her at the altar. This act becomes a running metaphor (pun intended) throughout the film, representing Dennis’s lack of fight to truly commit to something and finish something that he started.
We move forward five years then, with Dennis now dealing with the fact that Libby is seeing a new guy, Whit (Hank Azaria). Realising that he wants to win her back, he decides to outdo Whit any way he can. Upon finding out that Whit is running in the Nike River Marathon, he decides to apply and work his way in as well. Trouble is, he’s not the healthiest of fellas around. His two “coaches”, Gordon (Dylan Moran) and his landlord Mr. Goshdashtidar (Harish Patel), strives to put him through the mill, forcing him through a training regime that Dennis himself doesn’t find particularly enjoyable.
Upping the stakes further, Dennis also made a bet with his landlord’s daughter, Maya (India de Beaufort): if he doesn’t finish the race, he will be evicted. The stakes, then, are high in the game. A part of that is by his own creation (the possible eviction), but it is the piling up of other, arguably more important factors that really makes you think, “Damn, he can’t quit now.” Not to mention that he’ll look bad in front of Whit, he is also keen to make a positive impression on his son, Jake.
It is his efforts to get out of the situation, even while realising all the he (and Gordon, who made a bet about him) is about to lose, that is funny. Pegg’s facial reactions, at times, are absolutely priceless with their comic timing. Witness, for example, the gym scene, when Dennis sees a stark-naked Whit in the changing room. The bakery shop scene, when Libby’s customers finds out about Dennis doing a runner at the alter, was also hilarious, with the random intervention from various characters, hitting right when you least expect it.
No doubt that the director’s experience was used in orchestrating this particular scene. Speaking of the director, given Schwimmer’s background, you might think that the comedy leans more towards the American, rather than the British, side of things. We see this when Dennis asks about a special technique to run. “Isn’t there some kind of special technique?” “Well, yeah,” Gordon answers. “You put one leg in front of the other over and over again really fast.”
Another scene, with his landlord assisting him in his training, also had me in stitches. “How’d you get to be assistant coach?” Dennis asks. “Because I have the spatula!” is the reply, before he whacks Dennis with the aforementioned kitchen utensil.
It runs, then, the risk of losing the audience, for British comedy is not as acceptable as that of American humour. The film tanked at the US box office, which I believe reflects this factor, if nothing else. There is also that is new about this movie, and it’s unlikely to break new ground. Nevertheless, predictable as it may be, the ground that it did cover was funny for me. I had a fair amount of fun watching this movie, and it’s one of the funniest visual comedies I’ve seen for a while. It also helps that the beautiful India de Beaufort lights up the screen every single time.
Now she’s someone I definitely wouldn’t mind running for…
…which is really something, because Fikri hates running. He finds it incredibly boring.