Five years after he panics and leaves his pregnant girlfriend (Newton) at the altar, Dennis (Pegg) is still a loveable loser, moping after her. When her new boyfriend (Azaria) reveals that hes running in a marathon, Dennis sees a chance to turn his life
The last time Simon Pegg took a break from his Spaced/Shaun Of The Dead/Hot Fuzz brothers from other mothers, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost, he teamed up with David Schwimmer - yes, Ross from Friends - for last year’s misfiring noir comedy, Big Nothing.
Undeterred, though, Pegg and Schwimmer have reunited for Run, Fatboy, Run, a British-set romantic comedy that may not hit the heights of Fuzz, but which provides enough chuckles to indicate that Pegg is now a bona fide leading man, and that Schwimmer may just have found his calling as a director.
Schwimmer was always the Friend most likely to succeed behind the camera - he directed numerous episodes of the TV show - and here he shows real potential on a limited budget (now and again framing an ambitious shot to remind us that this is a movie), and, presumably thanks to Pegg’s rewrite, capturing some offbeat and more realistic London locations to go along with the predictable picture-postcard stuff (St. Paul’s! The Gherkin!) that inevitably crops up.
He also, after a slow start, handles the comedy well, with the high-point an icky, Farrelly-esque set-piece that showcases chemistry between Pegg and Dylan Moran so potent that Nick Frost might start to worry.
But, though Moran steals most scenes he’s in and Newton and Azaria do well with their fairly straight roles, this is Pegg’s movie. And, given that he wrote it, Pegg actually gave himself a heck of a challenge with Dennis. Closer in spirit to Shaun (Of The Dead) than, say, Hugh Grant, Dennis is initially unsympathetic (he walks out on a pregnant Thandie Newton, the cur!). But Pegg’s every action, reaction and line-reading is winningly human, and he handles the romantic-lead stuff as adeptly as the pratfalls.
It’s this likeability that sustains the movie through to a cheery and thoroughly modern ending, via stretches where the laughs - rarely of the belly variety, it must be said - sadly slow to a trickle.
But whenever Pegg and Moran are on screen, Run, Fatboy, Run feels less like a marathon, and more like a fun run.
Pegg pitched Shaun Of The Dead as Richard Curtis shot through the head. Run, Fatboy, Run comes on more like Richard Curtis kicked in the nuts - a refreshingly honest Britcom that never really threatens the ribs, but which is amiable company throughout