At the film's opening, Libbie (Thandie Newton) is very pregnant and very ready for the day's wedding ceremony, and her cousin Gordon (Dylan Moran) is bouncing back and forth between her and the groom, Dennis (Simon Pegg). Dennis is panicking, and when he sees an open window he takes off, with the rest of the wedding party hollering at him.
Five years later, Dennis is in a rut. He sees his son Jake (Matthew Fenton) sometimes, but screws up their plans; he's also rebuffed by Libbie. Dennis has a small job as a security guard for a women's clothing store, he's behind on the rent for his small apartment, and he drinks and smokes constantly. Worse, Libby is dating Whit (Hank Azaria), an American who is everything Dennis is not: handsome, fit, wealthy, and responsible. When Libby mentions that Whit is running a 26-mile marathon along the Themes, Dennis announces he's running it as well, thinking this will show Libby that he's changed.
Of course, Dennis is completely out of shape and unmotivated, but soon his planned run causes a stir in the community. Gordon bets all his money that Dennis will finish, so he makes himself Dennis' trainer. Dennis' landlord Mr. Ghoshdashtidar (Harish Patel) announces that he'll be Dennis' co-trainer -- which consists of whacking Dennis in the butt with a spatula. And the labdlord's daughter Maya (India de Beaufort) says that if Dennis finishes she'll forget all the rent he owes, but if he loses he gets evicted from his apartment.
There's a lot of talent here -- the script was written by Simon Pegg and Michael Ian Black, and the actors are all very skilled -- but the result is a very juvenile movie. There are a few chuckles, but the film can't resist any gross-out gag or having Dennis do pratfalls or sweat profusely anytime he exercises. Worse, the film is shamelessly manipulative: In the first half Whit seems to do absolutely everything Dennis tries to do better, while towards the end Dennis is transformed into a hero while Whit is villified to a painfully obvious extend. This movie is David Schwimmer's directorial debut; let's hope he learns something about subtlety before he directs again.
If you like Simon Pegg, rent or buy his terrific films Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. As for this, I say run, filmgoer, run -- away from Run Fatboy Run.
Overall grade: D
Reviewed by James Lynch