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Run Fatboy Run (2007)

Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 9/23/2008

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/22/2008

Change can be a very odd and difficult thing for people. (No, I'm not talking about coins.) Many people resist change in not only themselves, but in others are well. We don't like to be taken out of our comfort zone, and some people avoid change and challenge as well. Simon Pegg made a name for himself in the television series Spaced and the feature films Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, all of which were made with fellow actor Nick Frost and writer/director Edgar Wright. Should we begrudge Pegg for wanting to do a comedic film without his mates? If the movie is Run Fatboy Run, we should.

As Run Fatboy Run opens, it's the wedding day of Dennis Doyle (Simon Pegg) and Libby Odell (Thandie Newton), who is pregnant. However, Dennis decides that he can't handle it, and runs off. The story then jumps ahead five years. Dennis is a down-and-out security guard for a clothing store. Libby is the owner of a successful bakery and she has custody of their son, Jake (Matthew Fenton), who Dennis gets to see occasionally. Dennis is broke, out-of-shape, and hopeless. He gets a sudden wake-up-call when Libby begins dating Whit (Hank Azaria), a successful business man who runs marathons. In an instant, Dennis decides that he wants Libby back, and he decides that he can do this if he runs a marathon. So, with the help of his best friend, Gordon (Dylan Moran), and his landlord, Mr. Goshdashtidar (Harish Patel), Dennis begins to train. But, how can a pudgy smoker get ready for a marathon in just three weeks?

Run Fatboy Run has an odd history. The original script was written by Michael Ian Black, known as being a member of The State and as a participant in every VH1 retrospective ever, and the story was set in New York City. Then British investors became involved and the story was moved to London. And somewhere along the way, David Schwimmer -- yes, Ross from Friends -- became attached to direct the film. So, at first glance, we see Simon Pegg in a British comedy and think, "Hey, maybe this will be like Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz." Well, it's not.

And maybe it's wrong to assume that the movie will fit this mold, but even those who aren't familiar with Pegg and his work will find this movie very bland. Run Fatboy Run is one of those movies which isn't bad, it's just far too ordinary for its own good. The story resembles premises found in Mrs. Doubtfire or Night at the Museum, where the loser father feels that he must rise to the occasion against the mother's new boyfriend in order to impress his kid(s). How many times have we seen this before? And other than that, there really isn't much more happening in this film. We get the central idea that Dennis is going to try and run the marathon to impress Libby and there really isn't anything else. There are no real subplots, and we only get a few peripheral characters.

A film this streamlined many sound refreshing, but Dennis' quest alone isn't enough to sustain a 100-minute movie. Once the initial premise is established, we simply get scene after scene of Dennis making an ass of himself as he tries to get ready for the race. The middle part of the movie drags on during these moments. How ironic that a movie about a race would seem so slow.

As someone who has liked Pegg in other things, I must say that I was disappointed in Run Fatboy Run. However, I can't play Pegg for this, as he seems to be doing the best that he can with what he's given, and he does have some funny moments, as does Moran, who is a great straight-man and also appeared with Pegg in Shaun of the Dead. The major issue here, aside from the stale story, is that much of the humor is quite silly and doesn't have the clever edge that we usually get from Pegg. Schwimmer creates some interesting moments when showing Dennis' imagination and memories, but for the most part, the film's look and feel is fairly neutral. As someone who's grown accustomed to British comedies producing big laughs, I say walk, don't run, to rent this one.

Run Fatboy Run collapses onto DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The DVD contains both the widescreen and fullscreen versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is fairly sharp and clear, showing only a trace amount of grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good, especially those seen in the marathon scenes. I noted no overt video noise or artifacting, but the picture does lack in detail at times and is slightly dark. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, most notably during street scenes. During the marathon, we are treated to some nice surround sound and the score fills the speakers. There's very little in the way of bass effects here.

The Run Fatboy Run DVD contains only a few extras. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY with Director David Schwimmer, actors Simon Pegg & Thandie Newton, and Gill Pegg (Simon's Mom). This is a pretty good talk as the three main speakers provide scene specific comments about the movie. They talk about working in London on a tight budget and they praise their fellow actors. They also mention differences between the finished film and Black's original script. The DVD contains 14 DELETED SCENES which run 7 minutes and can be viewed with optional commentary. Most of these are actually simply extended versions of scenes which are in the existing film. They provide a few more seconds of footage and no new ideas or subplots. There is a 7-minute reel of OUTTAKES. "Thandie's Goof" (3 minutes) shows a prank being played on Pegg during a press junket. The extras are rounded out by two trailers for the film.

Warner Home Video has also brought Run Fatboy Run to Blu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is quite sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. While this isn't the most colorful film ever made, the hues still practically leap off of the screen. The picture has a notable amount of depth and has a quasi-3-D look at times. The image is highly detailed and the brightness is well-balanced. The Disc offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.0 Mbps. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects, but it lacks the "oomph!" found on other New Line Blu-rays. Having said that, the track does provide a solid audio experience. The surround sound during the finale is quite good and the stereo effects are very highly detailed, introducing us to quite minute tones. The in-film music sounds fine as well.

The extras found on the Blu-ray Disc are identical to those on the DVD.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long