I don't know about you, but I have never been very keen on the whole running for pleasure thing. I'm more of a "run when necessary" kind of guy. You know, like when I am playing football and I have someone chasing me down the sidelines, or when a guy approaches me on the street with a knife and he starts chasing me down the sidewalk, or when a bear starts attacking me in the woods. Although, from what I understand, you should not run in that situation. Instead, you should either play dead, yell and flail your arms, or spray it with pepper spray (and I always have that readily available when going for leisurely runs I hate in the woods).
Dennis Doyle (Simon Pegg) is an ordinary, likeable guy - even knowing the fact that he "ran" away from his pregnant wife-to-be, Libby (Thandie Newton), on their wedding day. Five years after his great escape, Doyle is living in a basement apartment, working as a security guard in a lingerie store, and has resorted to lazy habits brought on by living a life filled with no aspirations, or people providing him with the motivation to do better for himself. While Doyle constantly messes up - getting arrested while trying to scalp tickets to see the Lord of the Rings musical with his son, Jake (Matthew Fenton), or showing up hours late to pick the boy up - he remains in love with his ex, who is now seeing Whit (Hank Azaria), a somewhat likeable, wealthy American banker who enjoys the challenge of running marathons and the sense of accomplishment it brings when he finishes the race.
Once Azaria comes into the picture (which is early on), the story takes on a formula that I can only describe as nothing new. It's a story that tells itself. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy misses girl, girl meets new boy, old boy gets jealous and tries to get the girl back by running a marathon. Throw in a foul-mouthed Brit named Gordon (Dylan Moran), a fat and inspirational Indian named Mr. Goshdashtidar (Harish Patel), while Pegg stumbles and bumbles through marathon training, and you have Run, Fat Boy, Run.
My problem with Run, Fat Boy, Run, however, is not the story, despite it's predictable and formulaic composition. The truth is, the messages behind the actions (and some of the actions themselves) are quite inspirational. It's not quite the perfect movie (the script is filled with cliches and it's far too simple for its own good), but it offers a good amount of sappy "I wanna cry" moments, with the typical laugh out loud moments you'll get from a Pegg movie.
I also have no real problems with David Schwimmer's direction in his directorial debut. He took a story we've all seen in one form or another, and made it into a watchable 110 minute film. I definitely have no problems with Pegg, Newton, Azaria, Patel, Moran or Fenton, because they were able to take a stale story with a new twist and create a few laughs and heartfelt moments. Pegg is likeable, and Newton is gorgeous playnig the ball that is always bouncing between the two men, even when she truly knows where her heart lies. Patel and Moran add a good amount of comic relief, despite the fact that Patel's character is a little annoying and kind of hard to understand.
I do, however, have a problem with the title of the movie. Why? Well, Pegg isn't exactly fat. He's barely even overweight. If anything, the Brit has a slight beer belly, most likely due to his various pub visits in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Calling Pegg fat is like calling Ben Affleck a good actor or a box office success. There is one point in the film where Doyle is running and someone shouts out, "Run, fat boy, run," to which he responds, "I'm not fat, I'm just unfit." It's true. He's not fat. Hell, he's not even close to being called chubby, portly, stout, plump, rotund, flubby or pudgy. He's a skinny guy with a tiny beer belly. However, since the title is far less funny and catchy as, Run, Unfit Boy, Run, we're stuck with a title that treats Pegg more like he is a fat ass sitting on his couch, smoking cigarettes, eating gallons of ice cream and having cheesecake injected into his arm via intravenous therapy. I'm not sure having a Chris Farley-sized actor in Pegg's role would have made the movie funnier, but it would have made more sense with the title.
Watching Run, Fat Boy, Run is like running a marathon. You want to pace yourself so you have enough energy to make it until the very end. You will have great moments, like watching a fight scene between Dennis and Gordon, or watching Gordon pop a golf ball-sized blister in the bottom of Dennis's foot with what looks like a rusty nail. You will have the painful moments, assuming you're not in marathon-like shape, like when Gordon, Dennis and Mr. Goshdashtidar try to fake a disease in order to get charity sponsorship. You will get tired, and you might even get bored, but you will push and push in hopes that crossing the finish line will be the ultimate payoff. Only problem is, when you cross that finish line, no one is there to celebrate your accomplishment and your legs are going to hurt for days, which makes the whole event kind of disappointing.
At this point in the race, your legs are about ready to give out on you. There is less than a mile left, and your heart is racing out of control. The end is in sight, but there's this little kid on the side of the street throwing twigs, rocks, and other foreign objects in your way unbeknownst to his parents, who are cheering for the fat guy running with a half-eaten turkey leg in his plump fist. But, you keep running. The end is near.
Obstacle number one is a feature commentary that is quite different from most you will find on any other DVD. It's not that Schwimmer, Pegg, or Newton are saying anything out of the ordinary about each scene they talk about, or a memory they had while shooting the film. It's a commentary on the feature film, and if you've seen one you've seen them all. But, the twist to this one is instead of having Azaria, Patel or Moran add their voice, the commentary gives way to Gill Pegg, who happens to be Simon's mom. She has nothing to do with the film, besides her son being the lead character. Just for that little addition, it's worth watching this film (or at least some of it) over again, just to hear if Simon gets his sense of humor from his mom.
The next obstacle along the way to the finish line is a doozy - it's 14 deleted scenes. Yes, 14 scenes that were filmed, yet never made it into the movie. I think two deleted scenes is more than sufficient, especially since they are scenes that were DELETED FROM THE MOVIE! Why were they deleted? Well, because there are scenes like "Gordon," where Doyle goes to Gordon's apartment to pick up tickets for the Lord of the Rings play. Doyle stands on the street, screaming, "Gordon" at the top of his lungs and eventually throws a rock at the window. He curses and walks of screen, and the scene ends. There is another scene, maybe one minute in length, called "Egg & Bacon Sandwich." This scene shows Pegg sitting outside Libby's apartment eating an egg and bacon sandwich. I now hate egg and bacon sandwiches, and that's a huge thing for me to give up, because I absolutely love bacon.
Watch out! There's outtakes in the way, and almost seven minutes worth of them. Most gag reels are about half that length, but I guess they really messed up a lot while shooting Run, Fat Boy, Run. Most gag reels are also funny, this one only has its moments, and as weird as this will sound, most of them come when Hank Azaria's ass is showing. It's a part of the movie where Dennis joins Whit at the gym. After their workout they go into the locker room and Whit, with no shame, removes his towel and stands in front of Doyle, as he tries not to look (after looking amazed). Only, in this outtake, Azaria takes it upon himself to start slapping himself. There are a few good laughs in the gag reel (probably the wrong choice of words to use now), but not seven minutes worth.
It's time to take a quick water break, because, well, you're thirsty. And so is Simon Pegg in the feature called, "Goof." This is basically Pegg being set up for an interview for the movie. Little did he know, however, the glass of water sitting beside him was actually vodka, planted by Thandie Newton. The stagehand bring over a bottle of water, which was, again, vodka. This goes on for two more bottles, which were all planted by Newton. Pegg then tells the camera that Newton was quite the prankster on set, pulling other pranks such as putting "fake poo" in his trailer toilet and "skiddy knickers" somewhere else. I don't know what "skiddy knickers" are, but I guess it's kind of dirty.
The remaining features include trailers for the movie, as well as a sneak peak at Be Kind Rewind, which you might as well run away from. The features, while not overwhelmingly good or bad (just like the movie) seem to provide some entertainment for your marathon. Sure, it will have its ups and downs, but the good thing is, you're allowed to take shortcuts this time and stop in for some fast food along the way.