As time will hopefully tell, being funny in front of the camera does not translate to humorous antics behind it. Such is the lesson to be learnt from David Schwimmer’s directorial efforts throughout, Run, Fatboy, Run. A glimmer of hope is present in the form of pre-Star Trek Simon Pegg, but that is to put all our eggs in one basket if we are to trust his efforts here. Suffering some sort of sudden panic, the cold feet of marriage, a baby and a house with a loved one is too much for Dennis (Pegg) to consider. Thus, his only option is to run from his problems, regret his mistakes, and win them back by, what else? Running after them.
With such a dedication to its marathon and odd message of physical fitness, it is a strange enough idea to consider Run, Fatboy, Run actually has some semblance of themes at its ugly, boring core. Its logic is lacking, a slightly out-of-shape man runs a marathon to win back the girl of his dreams that he abandoned once before, and now contends with her spry, healthy Hank Azaria-shaped boyfriend. Pegg is fine, he always is. The problem is not with Pegg but with the performances around him, which are frighteningly underwhelming considering the heavy-hitting comedic supporters that surround him. Dylan Moran and Harish Patel fail to make heads or tails of their involvement in the script, while Azaria and Thandie Newton play the nuclear couple just aching for some form of distress and erosion to their relationship.
Somehow such a simplistic, plain story of winning back a lost love is mired with confusion, guilt and marathon running. It throws all the tropes it can at an ineffective story, but where Run, Fatboy, Run falls apart is with its comedy, or lack thereof. Schwimmer’s direction is nothing to criticise or revel in, it is the stock and static formula of the comedy genre. Where Run, Fatboy, Run loses its way is its inability to draw humour from its writing, relying far too much on the cheap humour of a series such as Carry on Camping, just toned down and expressed with much less charm. Schwimmer visualises the conflict felt between Azaria and Pegg with minimal effort and obvious conclusions. It is one of the many poor facets that mire the film, alongside a story that doesn’t make sense, where Schwimmer’s conclusion to overcoming these problems is to simply not linger on it for too long. Then again, he lingers on nothing in particular here, and it makes for a very strange narrative indeed.
Quite mean at times, but has the inevitable effects of the mid-2000s nostalgia-bait my generation will sink into with their hangovers and regrets. Hell, there are a couple of funny lines throughout, and the chemistry between Azaria and Pegg isn’t all that bad. I suppose I can attest to the fact that exercise and physical fitness is a pain, but I just stopped eating cheese and went for walks and now I’m the peak of human health. But Run, Fatboy, Run isn’t really concerned with that. It is more interested in penis gags, fat jokes and a terribly bland obsession with making Pegg out to be the ideal man that women swoon for despite his flabby shell and inability to change himself either physically or emotionally. Not a good message to send, and without the comedy to support it, Run, Fatboy, Run is left high and dry, sprinting through the streets with its gut hanging over the top of its running shorts.