Dylan Moran

Run Fatboy Run

run fatboy run

I’m not sure why anyone would run away from Thandie Newton, but that’s exactly what Dennis (Simon Pegg) does on his wedding day. Five years after leaving the pregnant Libby (Newton) at the altar, he’s still treading water as a security guard at a women’s clothing store. Meanwhile, she’s let him back into her life, mostly because of their son Jake (Matthew Fenton), but she hasn’t quite forgiven him. Still, things are looking better for her; she owns a successful boutique bakery and is spending more time with her new boyfriend, Whit (Hank Azaria).

His intrusion into their lives jerks Dennis from complacency as he realizes he is in danger of losing Libby again. An everyday schlub who’s mediocre at best when it comes to his job, and life, he knows he doesn’t measure up to Libby’s new man. Whit, by contrast, is one of those guys with a cushy office in the Gherkin and who goes to spin class during his lunch break. Or as Libby points out, he’s a good man because he runs marathons for charity. Realizing that his pride and the woman he loves are at stake, Dennis decides to enter a marathon and prove that he’s a changed man. If he can’t win back Libby, at least he can win back her respect.

There’s nothing extraordinary about this run-of-the-mill romcom script from Michael Ian Black and Pegg, and those expecting the sharp humor of Pegg’s Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End) will be left wanting. Most of the jokes can be spotted a mile or two away as the narrative jogs steadily towards its predictable finish. Dennis’s hefty landlord (Harish Patel) and his best friend (Dylan Moran), who is also Libby’s gambling, pants-less cousin, cheer from the sidelines and offer some comic relief while Whit passively aggressively emasculates Dennis at every turn.

The acting ensemble gives the tired script a strong push though and makes the film pleasant if average. Pegg, always a welcome presence, gives heart to even his wackiest roles with his uncanny ability to get serious. He does the same here, showing that behind Dennis’s sluggish, irresponsible persona, there is much love and regret. Azaria also attacks his part with smug gusto, making Whit’s comeuppance all the more satisfying. Caught in the middle, Newton has less to work with but is radiant nonetheless. It’s no wonder she’s got two guys going the distance for her.

Released: 2007
Prod: Sarah Curtis, Robert Jones
Dir: David Schwimmer
Writer: Michael Ian Black, Simon Pegg
Cast: Simon Pegg, Thandie Newton, Hank Azaria, Dylan Moran, Harish Patel, India de Beaufort, Matthew Fenton, Simon Day, Ruth Sheen, Peter Serafinowitz, Stephen Merchant, David Walliams
Time: 100 min
Lang: English
Country: United Kingdom
Reviewed: 2015

The Decoy Bride

Decoy Bride

‘Enchanting’ is entirely appropriate when speaking of Kelly Macdonald, even – or especially – when she appears in below average romantic comedies. She stars as Katie, a woman who retreats to her island home upon encountering quarterlife doldrums. Having gone ‘man vegan’ and resigned from her job as a writer for a menswear catalog, she is quickly commissioned to write a guidebook to her forgotten town.

Only Hegg, pop. 75, is not so neglected. It is the setting of novelist James Arber’s (David Tennant) magnum opus, The Ornithologist’s Wife, and he is due to marry international film star Lara Tyler (Alice Eve). Relentless press coverage forces the couple and their publicity team (Michael Urie and Sally Phillips) to escape the city, and they head to the sleepy island while disguised as marketing conference attendees.

In short order, Katie and James have an awkward run-in at a disused loo, Lara spies a tenacious paparazzo and goes AWOL, and Lara’s jumpy handlers recruit Katie as the decoy bride (!). But romantic comedy hell breaks loose when a tabloid army descends on Hegg. The fake couple gets trapped in a castle and then nearly drowns trying to escape. Lara, meanwhile, discovers Katie’s ill mother milking the media for extra cash.

While the requisite elements are in order, the sum of this movie falls short of the Richard Curtis benchmark. There is, admittedly, added value in seeing David Tennant draped in fur and harvest gold paisley and traipsing the island as ‘Lord of the Bagpipes’, but James is hardly a compelling hero. (The Ornithologist’s Wife?!) The real gem is Macdonald, and she makes The Decoy Bride worthy of some cupcakes and a bottle of wine on a lazy Saturday night. Characters brighten or fade in relation to shared screentime with her. Katie is not the desperate quirk, and she won’t get the guy just because she says embarrassing things that he mistakes for being adorable. Instead, she has that charming and underused quality, in movies, of sober self-awareness.

 

Released: 2012
Prod: Robert Bernstein, Douglas Rae, Paul Ritchie
Dir: Sheree Folkson
Writer: Neil Jaworski, Sally Phillips
Cast: Kelly Macdonald, David Tennant, Alice Eve, Hamish Clark, James Fleet, Dylan Moran, Sally Phillips, Michael Urie
Time: 89 min
Lang: English
Country: United Kingdom
Reviewed: 2013