If I were to use one word to describe Run Fatboy Run, it would be “formulaic”. I suppose one could say that about most romantic comedies–something that this film definitely is–but that is still something that ends up hurting it in the end. It’s unfortunate that it is so predictable, because if that wasn’t the case, it would be a really solid film.
It’s certainly not terrible by any stretch of the imagination. It’s often funny, heartwarming and inspirational. Apart from the fact that once a scene starts, you’re going to know how it ends, the film does offer a lot to its viewer.
I think that there is one other problem, apart from its predictable nature, and that is in the direction it has. While being a British film, it was actually directed by American David Schwimmer. Schwimmer is best known for starring in Friends, one of the most popular sitcoms ever. Here, he directs a cast of European actors, most notably Simon Pegg.
The problem comes from the fact that British and American humor is often quite different. It’s a cultural thing; different cultures just find different things funny. The fact that the film takes place in Britain, stars primarily British actors, but is directed by an American ends up creating an interesting situation. I don’t know if Schwimmer quite gets British humor, and his directing style tends to gear more towards the American side. Simon Pegg, the film’s star, attempts to inject his own unique brand of humor, which is geared towards the British side.
What results is a film that doesn’t quite know what it wants to do, despite the fact that its story is formulaic, to say the least. The little quips between characters are humorous, and easily the best part of the film, but the rest of the film isn’t nearly as entertaining. There are some funny situations, but not enough to carry the lackluster plot.
The story of the film is as follows. Dennis Doyle (Pegg) left his pregnant girlfriend, Libby (Thandie Newton) on their wedding day five years ago. He’s now a security guard for a woman’s clothing store, and is out of shape. Libby has a boyfriend now, and Whit (Hank Azaria) seems to be the perfect guy. Dennis still has feelings for her, and to prove that he can get out of his slacker lifestyle, he is going to run a marathon. After this decision is made, the rest of the film focuses on Dennis’ preparation for, and the duration of, the race.
Simon Pegg is a good comedic actor, and he really does shine in Run Fatboy Run. He injects his own humor into the film, and it is during these parts that it gets much better. I laughed far more from the dialogue exchanges between Pegg and other actors than I did during any of the situations that occurred throughout the film. While this does make an odd combination of humor, it, for the most part, works well enough.
Other actors did a great job as well, particularly the supporting jobs done by Dylan Moran as Dennis’ best friend, as well as Harish Patel as his landlord. They end up becoming his trainers, and provide really interesting moments. Moran especially has excellent comedic timing, and, apart from Pegg, gives the audience the most laughs.
And that is what the most important feature of a comedy film is. It needs to be funny, and Run Fatboy Run is. It has a large number of humorous moments, but it doesn’t have many laugh out loud moments. The laughter it generates is more quick chuckles than large-scale laughter. You might appreciate the humor more than if it did try to make you laugh loudly, or you might not. Humor is even harder to gauge than how you’ll react to the overall film.
Run Fatboy Run is funny, but also extremely predictable. As soon as a scene starts, you know how it will conclude. The same can be true about the entire film. That doesn’t matter much though, because the journey is what is important. Pegg and Moran are quite funny, although their brand of humor didn’t always mesh with Schwimmer’s directing style. It’s a funny film, but not one that necessarily requires viewing. It’s a decent film to watch if time is in need of wasting, but not one that you will ultimately remember or care about.