Run, Fatboy, Run

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Run, Fatboy, Run
Review (8/10)
(By Ron Henriques)

Why the heck would anyone want to run away from beauty Thandie Newton? Even worse, why would anyone want to leave her at the altar on her wedding day? Well Simon Pegg does just that and at a speed that would put the Road Runner to shame. A decade later he'll be running to win her back in the quirky new comedy ?Run Fatboy, Run', the directorial debut of David Schwimmer. Pegg, best known for battling zombies at the pub in ?Shaun of the Dead', is battling his conscience (minus his partner Nick Frost) as an out-of-shape security guard who wants to win back the girl he left behind and look like a hero in the eyes of their young son.

An obstacle standing in Pegg's way is Newton's new boyfriend Hank Azaria, a successful American businessman newly relocated to London who is almost the perfect man. He's got money, is in great shape and to Newton, may be the perfect role model her son needs. Pegg is already having trouble being a role model and definitely has no money, so he attempts to one-up Azaria by getting physical. Instead of challenging the guy to a fistfight, he enlists the aid of his best friend and Newton's cousin Dylan Moran (the star of the ?Black Books' series and Pegg's rival in ?Shaun') to help him train for a rigorous marathon in London that Azaria prides himself on completing.

That's easier said than done for a guy whose greatest physical feat was running from his fianc? at the altar, but if you're familiar with Pegg's tenacity, he's going to do it or die trying. He nearly drops dead from just chasing a lingerie shoplifter from the boutique where he works so he's got his work cut out for him. It seems more than a bit farfetched that a woman like Newton could have been in love with a schlub like Pegg, but he has enough charisma to pull it off and even appeal to her funny bone. The problem is that Azaria appears to be a decent and sincere guy as well and though Pegg may not want to admit it, this rival may be the perfect candidate to provide his son with the future he needs. Not only do the three leads work well together, but they are surrounded by memorable peripheral players that include Moran (who seems t o enjoy showing his rear end) as well as Harish Patel as Pegg's money grubbing landlord who becomes his personal trainer.

There's a wealth of comedic material to be found in Pegg's efforts to get in shape as well as Moran's vigorous support (which is due to the fact that he has a life or death bet on him), but Schwimmer perfectly balances those elements with dramatic tension between the two leads and the fact that it may never work out for them. That's due in great part to the fact that the script was written by Pegg and actor Michael Ian Black of TV's ?The State.' If the setting of this film were America as originally considered, the trials and tribulations of Pegg wouldn't have had that dry British wit or work well comedic ally. One funny bit even explores the psychological as Pegg encounters a physical representation of ?hitting the wall.? Schwimmer and Pegg previously worked together as stars of the barely released comedy ?Big Nothing? and appear to have developed a comfortable trust that allows one to let the other do his own thing and with great success. This picture was actually screened last fall and then abruptly held back for release till now. Now that the Oscar race is over this is the right comedy to put a little ?spring' in everyone's step.

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