Monday, 28 July 2008

Run Fatboy Run

Lowdown: A guy that dumped his pregnant fiancé on the aisle tries to win her back by running a marathon.
I really don’t need to go over my admiration to the works of Simon Pegg again; I have done so already while reviewing Hot Fuzz. Granted, Pegg did some overly eccentric stuff in his time, but he more than compensated for it with the stuff he did since Spaced. You may as well argue, then, that I was looking forward to Pegg’s latest appearance in Run Fatboy Run (RFR), a comedy set in Pegg’s native London.
As is usually the case with high expectations, RFR failed to go to Pegg’s previous heights. As the unoriginal naming technique that tries to cop a feel off Run Lolla Run suggests, RFR is severely lacking in the originality department. Worst, it suffers from a severe excess of cheesiness that comes as a result of making a seemingly British film by Americans and for Americans. Interestingly, this might be explained by the choice of directors: RFR was directed by Friends’ David Schwimmer. At least we know where the kitsch came from.
RFR starts with wedding celebrations as Pegg is about to marry a very pregnant Thandie Newton (Mission Impossible II’s lead chick), only that Pegg is too afraid to take the commitment; he leaves Newton and their guests behind and just runs away.
Fast forward a few years into the future, and now Pegg sports a slightly different hairstyle (so that you can tell the passage of time; in my own personal case, you can tell it by the loss of hair rather than the change of styles). Pegg is now working as a rather lacklustre security guy in this fashion shop, lacklustre because he’s fat (or rather, fattish by contemporary scale) and unfit enough not to be able to run after transvestite robbers stealing women’s underwear from his shop and running away on high heels. Indeed, that is the type of humor you should expect of RFR: unoriginal slapstick that takes the sexual innuendo aspect and pushes it for that unavoidable laugh that is also far from being the greatest laugh ever.
Pegg managed to successfully avoid the wedding but it is clear he’s still hurting the loss of Newton. He learns she is now seeing Hank Azaria, who seems to have been typecast for the same role he so successfully performed in Along Came Polly (but cannot manage the same comic performance): the comedian that comes in between the two lovers. Azaria even has a very similar joke to the one he ran in Polly, featuring him naked with certain bits of his body in close proximity to Pegg’s face.
At first, Azaria seems to be perfection incarnate, the best thing that could happen to Newton: An American with a successful career, a high income, and a liking to running marathons for charity. In order to compete, the desperate Pegg books himself to the Marathon of London (heavily slogganned in the film with Nike ads) with just three weeks to prepare himself to the impossible; the closer he gets to his target the more of the real Azaria we see, until everything untangles in a marathon of a final.
If the predictability, cheesiness and the humor weren’t bad enough, RFR also suffers from a bit of a credibility problem. In general, RFR is a story on how we must take commitments and assume responsibilities in our lives if we want to achieve anything. Granted, that's a fine and dandy message. The execution is bad, though: the characters, especially Pegg’s, are so stupid you can’t really identify with them. RFR fails to carry you emotionally, and thus it has to settle with being a vehicle for second grade jokes only.
Representative scenes:
1. Pegg’s best friend chats people walking the street from the height of his balcony, where these people can’t notice he’s undressed from the waist down.
2. Pegg talks to his landlord, an older Indian guy with an extra long name who reminisces his long gone wife and the fucks they’ve had together (I’m only quoting the language used by the film).
That’s the type of humor you should be expecting out of RFR. It’s up to you to decide whether it appeals to you.
Overall: Way below expectations but still manages to raise the occasional laugh. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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