Monday, March 31, 2008
like katrina with no fema, like martin with no gina:
A year ago, a funny movie called Hot Fuzz rubbed me the wrong way. It was, like I say, funny. But the spectacular team of actor Simon Pegg, real-life-best-friend Nick Frost and brilliant director Edgar Wright produced a film that wasn't quite up to their standards. (Spaced! Shaun Of The Dead!)

Tonight there's the opposite problem. Simon Pegg made a movie called Run Fat Boy Run. It's a very conventional romantic comedy. No zombies. No Nick Frost. No Edgar Wright. I loved it. What's wrong with me?

So, no spoilers, but Simon Pegg plays a big-hearted loser who needs to win back his baby's mother, who in turn is about to marry a soulless overachiever, and the mechanism he contrives to do this is to turn himself into a marathon runner. Hijinks ensue. No, really: They actually do, despite the painfully obvious view-the-puppet-strings formula. Ever since Big Train, Pegg has demonstrated impeccable timing at seething with frustration over a trap he, too late, recognizes he's laid for himself. To borrow a joke from David Cross, Pegg's genius is to display the horrible, dawning awareness that your keys are still in the car while you watch the door slam shut. The movie is tightly written to Pegg's strengths, courtesy of Pegg and his co-writer Michael Ian Black.

But... you keep craning your neck for the next frame to show Nick Frost bounding into the shot. But, like Odell Watkins, Frost sat this one out. The douchebag David Schwimmer directed Run Fat Boy Run, and actually directed it adequately, but he's more problematic. Every now and then there's a super-fast swoop to deliver a punch line, or a burst of dischordant color -- often from Pegg -- to break up a shot's monotone, or -- most egregiously -- a fake-fight sequence. Schwimmer uses all this to demonstrate that he knows who Edgar Wright is. So why didn't Edgar direct the picture? It's hard to point to a shot or a moment that Schwimmer's non-Wright-ness fouls up. But his repeated winks at Wright make him seem like the soulless Hank Azaria character, forever reminding us that he's got the prize of directing a Simon Pegg feature, and not that other guy we used to hang out with. It's like he's trying to demonstrate his hipness with all his brit-com references -- you know, like I'm doing right now.

Good cameos though. Dylan Moran from Black Books plays Simon's best friend, and comes close to stealing every scene he's in. There's an egregious-but-funny scene with David Walliams where Walliams essentially reprises his character in the "Margaret! Margaret!" sketch from Little Britain. And there's also a peep out of Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais's writing partner from The Office, for a deus-ex-machina bit of physical comedy. But. No. Nick. Frost.

Now, look, Outkast basically made separate records and the band isn't broken up. Rancid's extended hiatus is ending with a new album this year. People need to branch out, and then they come home. There's no need to panic. Right?
--Spencer Ackerman
Michael Ian Black's not nothing, you know. Stella was one of my favorite shows of all time. Not to mention "Wet Hot American Summer," although he was only in it as an actor.
Blogger Delicious | 9:42 PM

I'm not saying he's nothing! Dude, 'The State,' come on now. I'm just saying he's not Nick Frost or Edgar Wright.
Blogger Spencer Ackerman | 6:02 AM

and the break following Enter the Wu made me appreciate Wu Tang Forever that much more, in addition to showing off their individual talents.
Blogger Jeff Dexter | 7:27 AM