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Run Fatboy Run

By Cole Haddon | Posted 3/26/2008

Most people in America only know Brit Simon Pegg from his roles in director Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz or because they've seen pictures tagging him as the new Scotty in the Star Trek reboot, but the truth is he's starred in a great deal of crap since Shaun that you've probably never seen. Run Fatboy Run isn't the worst of these many movies, but you can bet that Pegg is glad he didn't have to rely on it instead of Shaun to introduce him to Americans.

Dennis (Pegg) is a bloated smoker with intimacy issues who, five years ago, left his far-too-beautiful-for-him, very-pregnant fiancée, Libby (Thandie Newton), at the altar by literally running away. Today, he's a mall security guard with no prospects and a son he's constantly letting down, which is why he takes it so badly when Libby--whom he still loves--starts dating Whit (Hank Azaria), a well-to-do Yank with a perfect body and a fetish for running marathons. That finally pushes Dennis into action, prompting him to announce to Libby that he'll run in an upcoming marathon against Whit even though, at the moment, he can't even run to the end of the block. With the help of his best friend, Gordon (Dylan Moran), and his blustery landlord, Mr. Ghoshdashtidar (Harish Patel), Dennis gives up smoking and drinking, sheds a few pounds, and even finds a race sponsor. In less than a month, he's miraculously gotten back to his old (apparently still out-of-shape) self and is ready to at least go the distance. That's when Whit proposes to Libby and lets Dennis know he intends to take her and Dennis' son to Chicago, sending Dennis into another tailspin of hopelessness that only stops when he realizes he's not running for Libby or his son but for himself. Now, that's a life-affirming, albeit utterly predictable, conclusion to his character arc, right? Then, of course, comes the marathon.

Pegg does an admirable job of keeping you pulling for Dennis despite the fact that his character is pretty unlikable. Never once are we given a reason to root for this guy other than that he's our protagonist; in other words, there's no unrecognized value to him as a human that makes us want Libby to dump Whit and live happily ever after with Dennis. Even when Pegg rises up and, against all odds, pushes through the marathon, you still don't think he's worthy of Libby. Nevertheless, Pegg, director David Schwimmer, and company give it their best effort and, despite pretty much getting it wrong from the start, they at least manage to keep a smirk on your face most of the time.

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