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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Run, Fatboy, Run

David Schwimmer directs new comedy

Published: April 11, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

How do you win over a former love again? Answers may range from splurging on rose bouquets to serenading said love from beneath their window. However, to the endearing, but initially pathetic protagonist of Run, Fatboy, Run, the way to a woman’s heart is by running a marathon.

In Run, Fatboy, Run, British loser Dennis, played by Simon Pegg attempts to win back his former fiancée, Libby, played by Thandie Newton (Crash, Mission: Impossible II).

So why five years after leaving Libby at the altar, does Dennis want her back? A little competition, of course.

In the time they’ve been separated, Libby has managed to “trade up” big time, dating seemingly perfect hedge fund manager Whit, played by Hank Azaria (Huff ). Whit, who Dennis dubs “Peter Perfect,” has a duplex with a breathtaking view of St. Paul’s Cathedral, slides perfectly into the father figure role to Dennis and Libby’s son, Jake and even runs marathons for charity in his spare time. To prove his dedication ad that he has changed from the man who left Libby in the dust on their wedding day, Dennis vows to complete a marathon that Whit is running in. Cue the training montage.

However Dennis does not have to go it alone. Along for encouragement and out of their own self-interest, are Dennis’ Indian landlord who slaps him with a spatula for encouragement and his best friend Gordon, who places a bet that Dennis will be able to complete the marathon.

However this is not the typical Simon Pegg comedy that his fans have come to expect. Pegg’s best friend Nick Frost, who frequently plays Pegg’s endearing sidekick as seen in Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, is absent from this film and replaced by Shaun of the Dead’s Dylan Moran, who plays Gordon. Rather than attempting to re-create the best friend chumminess between Pegg and Frost, Moran strikes out on his own creating a character who, while being a bit too self-serving, manages to endear himself to the audience all the same.

Run, Fatboy, Run stands as a test of Pegg’s true talent, given that not only does he forfeit a familiar co-star, but also wrote the film with another partner. Instead of partnering with Edgar Wright, who Pegg co-wrote Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead with, he joins forces with Michael Ian Black, a popular face on VH1’s I Love the… series. Wright, who directed Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, is replaced again, this time by Friends alum David Schwimmer. Run, Fatboy, Run marks Schwimmer’s feature film directorial debut.

In spite of its blunt title, Run Fatboy Run is a more nuanced film than it lets on. It is not simply a romantic comedy or even necessarily about winning over the girl. Rather it is a film for the underdog about pushing past laziness to self-improvement, suggesting that Dennis is simply a diamond in the rough that needs a little polishing.

One thing that is crystal clear after watching this film: Simon Pegg is a force to be reckoned with. While the rest of the cast does an admirable job of keeping up with Pegg, there are no show-stealers in this bunch. Pegg’s natural charisma manages to charm the audience, even as we watch his attempt to down a glass of raw eggs. Pegg has proven that no matter the co-star, writing partner or director, his wit is unbeatable.