David Schwimmer steps behind the camera to produce a solid sports comedy that doesn’t do anything spectacularly new or unpredictable, but is entertaining nonetheless.
Dennis Doyle (Simon Pegg) is a bit of a loser. About to get married to his pregnant fiancée Libby (Thandie Newton) Dennis freaks out and runs out on her and the family minutes before the ceremony. A few years later, Dennis shares custody of their son, Jake, and secretly longs for Libby kind of hoping that they will eventually end up together. Though, Libby has a new man in her life, Whit (Hank Azaria) an American business man, and Dennis decides he needs to win Libby back from this seemingly perfect man. Dennis devises a plan with his friend Gordon (Dylan Moran) to earn Libby back and get Gordon out of gambling debt with some not so friendly people; he will run a marathon to try and prove himself as good as a runner Whit is.
The film is a mix of sports training along with Dennis trying to get a grasp on his life. He can’t make rent, has a dead end job, and feels like he could be a better father to his son. In the meanwhile, he begins to form a positive relationship with the new couple (Libby and Whit) as he tries to better himself to hopefully steal the girl out from under him. Schwimmer’s film mixes silly humor with touching moments of realization and even though it follows your comedy and sport flick beats, it puts enough of a spin on things to not seem redundant. They sprinkle enough good gags and dialogue into the film as well to make the film a decent original comedy as well. Schwimmer also handles the sports side of the picture with ease, sprinkling in humor, but also getting us pumped to get behind Dennis as well. Though, the unrealistic nature of his ability to get ready for a marathon is way too unbelievable, but the movie puts a nice little twist to get around that in the end though. Also, I appreciate the way they handle the race at the end, and while it becomes a bit predictable once the set up is in place, it works a lot better then having everything going to plan. Though, I think it is kind of a weak turn for Azaria in the film that doesn’t quite work for me; it is a bit too convenient.
Simon Pegg really makes the film though as he continues to prove that he is a capable and hilarious leading man. His slacker Dennis is truly pathetic, but you can still get behind him because he is not offensive or abrasive to the audience. Once the training portions of the film kicks in as well, Pegg is able to nail the physical comedy that they weave into the proceedings and Pegg shows his range humor is across the board. Pegg also handles the few emotional scenes in the film as well and has a great connection with his son in the film; you really get behind him to make things work. Hank Azaria is great as the super confident and perfect boyfriend and provides plenty of laughs along the way. Thandie Newton is also sweet as Libby, but she also does a fine job of capturing her struggle and back and forth with her feelings as she slowly sees Dennis growing into a man she could be with. Dylan Moran also does a nice job of providing some excellent comic relief, and has the best gag in the movie as well.
In the end, Run Fatboy Run is an entertaining twist on the sports genre. There is plenty of good comedy and Simon Pegg is as good as always. Pegg and Michael Ian Black’s script is brought to life with a pretty good debut as director for Schwimmer, but one is left wishing the film was a tab bit more daring and original. None the less, it is an entertaining comedy that I can easily recommend and you should definitely check it out next time you are down at the video store.