Among the myriad of things that I may never understand (physics, the appeal of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (sorry), the complete inner workings of the female anatomy) is this: How the hell did Simon Pegg wind up as the star of a David-Schwimmer directed movie, especially one written by Michael Ian Black? A bland sitcom star directing one of the funniest cinema guys in Britain? It’s like the unholy commingling of ethnic foods: Tikka Masala with a side of burrito, lasagna with spareribs, sushi and donuts. It makes no goddamn sense to me, and like that commingling of cuisine, Run Fat Boy Run is an ipecac of bad British comedy and awful American rom-com, which is tantamount to mixing collards and clotted cream, but at least the garnish (Simon Pegg) is pretty.
Released in the UK eons ago, Run Fat Boy Run took its sweet-ass time coming stateside in part, I suspect, because the few fans of Pegg in the United States prefer to keep it that way. In fact, given the mixed reviews it’s already received, I can only surmise that American critics are taking it easy on Fat Boy out of respect for Pegg’s body of work (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, “Spaced”), but I’ll give it to you straight: Cameron Diaz has made better romantic comedies. Hell: Both Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell have made infinitely better use of the one-joke comedy. If I were Gene Shalit, I’d have a goddamn field day with it: Run Fat Boy Run gave me the runs/trots; run, don’t walk, as far away as possible; it’s a marathon of clichés; more winded than a whoopee cushion; it’s not jog in the park; a 100 yard dash of dull; Run Fat Boy Run has tendinitis of the brain; don’t watch this movie, it sucks!
You get the idea.
The premise itself is about as feebleminded as you’d expect from the corn in one of Nora Ephron’s turds, but then again, Michael Ian Black is not exactly known for successfully running a joke longer than 45 seconds. In the beginning of the film, we spot Dennis (Pegg) sprinting away from the altar, leaving his pregnant fiancée, Libby (Thandie Newton) without a date for her own wedding. Five years later, Dennis is a security cop at a London mall who gets winded chasing shoplifting transgendered women in high-heels. He’s a lay-about fuck-up who has nevertheless managed to become a decent father, in spirit anyway. However, Libby is making headway in her relationship with Whit (Hank Azaria), a blowhard financial something or another who is trying to buy away the affections of Dennis’ son and abscond to Chicago with kid and wife, leaving Dennis alone with Major Apathy (Dylan Moran) and General Boredom (Harish Patel) to keep him company.
Threatened by Whit and sensing that his penis size doesn’t measure up, the slovenly, out-of-shape smokestack that is Dennis decides he wants to run the London marathon to win back the affections of Libby, gain the respect of his son, and slay Whit with his cock. Thus begins a series of tired montages set to mediocre music, all of which don’t even result in the loss of Dennis’ paunch, which he carries with him during a marathon with all the surprises of a night in bed with Mitt Romney and all the joys of an anal sneeze (Gesundheit).
Aside from a script lazier than a deadbeat welfare recipient taking a sabbatical from chronic masturbation, the tone in Run Fat Boy Run is a mess, alternating between a crushingly dull romantic comedy featuring a cast member from “Friends” (save for Lisa Kudrow) and a love story as earnest as a punch to the Adam’s apple. The jokes are equal parts lame and obvious (Dennis’ charity is erectile dysfunction; he spends much of the movie contending with chaffed testicles) and one was even stolen, nearly word for word, from a crack Roger Ebert once made when Vincent Gallo called him fat (“I can lose weight, but you’ll always be an asshole.”) And for the love of durable, wrinkle-free khakis: Simon Pegg isn’t even fat! He’s like a pregnant rail in its first trimester — this movie is an insult to obesity, goddamnit.
And riddle me this, ball-scratch? Why is it that in nearly every romantic comedy where there are two men competing over a woman must the ultimate loser must reveal himself to be a complete motherfuckery? Why can’t the “leading man” win outright because he’s noble or honest or admirable, instead of winning by default because the other guy is a pubic stain on humanity? No offense to Mr. Azaria, but the second he appears onscreen as the boyfriend, you know exactly where it’s heading, you just don’t know whether he’s gonna be a serial adulterer or a child abuser. Of course, it’s a goddamn mystery to me why a woman as gorgeous as Thandie Newton would ever take back a man who ditched his pregnant fiancée at the altar in the first place, but then again, I didn’t realize that all women had only the choice between two evils.
On most days, I probably wouldn’t raise much stink over an otherwise innocuous romantic comedy whose only real offense is tiresomeness. But this is Simon Pegg, goddamnit. I don’t care if Ross’ monkey Marcel directed it — Pegg, who did a script rewrite, ought to be able to rise above this mediocrity instead of wallowing in it. This is a man who once killed a zombie with a Sade record for fuck’s sake — why is he hobbling around in a witless role that Jason Biggs would turn down? It’s an embarrassment to Pegg’s fanbase and a bitchslap to the face of Edgar Wright, who didn’t create a cult movie star so that he could sell out to useless convention.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives with his wife and son in Ithaca, New York. You may email him, or leave a comment below.
Run Fat Boy Run / Dustin Rowles
Film Reviews | March 27, 2008 | Comments ()