RUN FATBOY RUN (**1/2) - Starring Simon Pegg, Thandie Newton, Hank Azaria, Dylan Moran and Harish Patel.
Directed by David Schwimmer.
The formula vehicle comedy is a Hollywood staple. Put comedian in situation, unfold it in three acts, and voila, a movie. Not all vehicles are created equal, nor are all comedians. Ben Stiller tends to stick with the two-man buddy formula. When he goes solo it can be successful (Night at the Museum) or stinky (The Heartbreak Kid). Low-end vehicles are always kicking around Hollywood (see: Dane Cook, Rob Schneider, Larry the Cable Guy).
This is one such formula, but you have a screenplay from Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz) and Michael Ian Black (The State), and a directorial debut from David Schwimmer, and a good lead man (Pegg). if there is a weakness of the three, it's Schwimmer. There are plenty of times the comedy flows naturally, but then bizarre slapstick and pratfalls come out of nowhere.
Pegg plays Dennis, who ran out on his pregnant fiancee (Thandie Newton) on their wedding day. So, he starts off as a jerk. Five years later, we see his situation, where he's been regretting it ever since, playing single dad on the weekends, but now he feels intimidated when she gets a successful, handsome boyfriend Whit (Hank Azaria). Somewhere in there it comes up that Whit's going to run a marathon, so Dennis says he's going to run too. Of course, Dennis is out of shape.
It's also another movie where at the end, either Dennis accepts the new guy, or the movie will throw in a quick, contrived way to expose the guy as a jerk a la Tin Cup. And Dennis is such a petulant whiner through most of the movie, I credit Simon Pegg for preventing me from actively rooting for him to lose at the end.
I come back to the direction. When Dennis bumps his head on a mirror, it's not a bump and an "Ow", he quickly falls to the ground from it. When he's about to go down some stairs, and Whit sayd "Watch out for that first step," Dennis trips and goes thud-bang-tumbling down the stairs. At least Whit doesn't say, "It's a dooozy!"
So overall it's average; not bad for a rental, glad I didn't pay big-screen prices to see it.
(Gaffe watch: at one point Dennis and his friend Gordon get in a fight. In the scene the garbage can nearby is upright, then on its side, then upright again.)