Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review: Fat Kid Rules the World (Film)

Well, I need to re-watch Star Trek Into Darkness, actually go through Return to Oz uninterrupted, possibly skim through Tears to Tiara super quick and post at least one more blog before I feel justified in doing another Kickstarter Weekend (also it’s not the weekend). I’m actually in a weird spot with the blog where I have a lot of stuff I need to write but not a lot of ability to actually write them. I know I need to post something to keep the blog traffic coming. So let’s review Fat Kid Rules the World. Because why not?

Fat Kid Rules the World is a young adult novel written by K.L. Going published in 2003. This is a fun story: some years ago Hollywood actor and professional Shaggy Rogers performer Matthew Lillard was asked to record the audio version of the book and soon fell in love with story. Lillard would spend the next decade or so trying to get the book turned into a movie. He eventually succeeded, with himself in the director’s chair. However when he needed extra cash to help with the distribution and promotion Lillard turned to Kickstarter a bit over a year ago. Fun fact: the Kickstarter project (found here, long succeeded) was one of the first crowd funding pages I ever saw which helped start my obsession with, and my subsequent coverage of, them. The idea of Lillard, who is famous and beloved (by me, at least) for his role in SLC Punk (one of my favorite movies of all time), directing his own punk rock themed film was an amazing idea and I was stoked by the prospect. Sadly no theaters were playing it near me.

Fast forward to last week when I noticed that the film was on Netflix. So you know I had to watch the damn thing. I mean it has all the right beats: it’s a punk film, it’s a Kickstarter project turned successful and it was convenient, my favorite thing in the world. So does this film live up to the hype or is Mathew Lillard better off keeping to playing Shaggy for the rest of this career?

Full review after the jump.

Fat Kid Rules Miami Beach, apparently
Troy (Jacob Wysocki) is an overweight, awkward, depressed and very lonely seventeen year old kid. He has no friends in school, his athletic father and brother don’t really relate to him and he regularly fantasizes about killing himself. One day Troy musters courage to throw himself in front of a bus but before it can hit him he is knocked out of its way by Marcus (Matt O'Leary), a teen delinquent who is locally famous for a variety of negative reasons. Marcus informs Troy that since he saved his life he now “owes him”. Over the next few days Marcus continues to pester Troy, eventually forcing him to form a band with him with Troy as the drummer. The problem is that Troy doesn’t play drums at all and Marcus has booked them to play a gig in just a few weeks…

Troy’s story is something I really relate to. An awkward and unpopular nerd who discovers the magic of punk rock and it changes him for the better? Yeah, that was me. I was touched by the protagonist’s journey because of how close to home it felt. It was heartwarming to see Troy slowly build up confidence. I also really loved Troy’s dad. Yeah he was kind of a dick but for the most part he was the opposite of your typical parent archetype. He doesn’t understand Troy to begin with and his transformation throughout the movie isn’t something he’s completely comfortable with but it’s so clear that he loves his son and wants to do whatever he can to make him happy. And hey, for the most part he trusts his son to make the right decisions. What sort of witchcraft is this?

Matt O’Leary is pretty cool as Marcus and the character comes off as whatever the male equivalent of a Manic Pixie Dreamgirl is. He’s charming and funny but always at the same time sad and pathetic. The dynamic works really well and the friendship between him and Troy is a plot point that’s almost as well done as the “Troy’s Awakening” storyline (you know I like stories about friendship). The acting, overall, was pretty good all-around especially from the two leads. The script is really good for the most part.

This scene is too punk to make fun of
The other characters in the movie are numerous but not as well developed, to the point that I can’t even remember most of their names. Troy’s brother kind of gets some development but it’s not enough and the Rock & Roll girl that Troy has a crush on and his former best friend who stopped talking to him are shockingly underused (and probably all involved in a subplot that should have been more important than it ultimately was portrayed). Now I think the blame lies on the fact that at the end of the day this is all based on a book meaning that the filmmakers are trying to cram a lot of story into a two hour (or so) time frame and shit is going to get cut because of this. It suffers but it’s not really a giant problem.

If I were to find one outstanding negative with this film it would be the ending. I’m not sure I want to give anything away but I will say that the way the film ended Marcus’ arc basically doesn’t goes anywhere (that we’re allowed to see anyway) and the big story point the plot builds up to for the whole film is a total let down because we actually don’t get to see it happen. It’s a huge disappointment even though I assume it was done intentionally, probably for artistic reasons and/or because of the book. It’s hard to talk about it without actually spoiling the film but if you check this movie out, and you should, I think you’ll be able to figure out where my issues lie pretty quickly.

You can probably tell but I really like this flick. It’s a nice, fun story about friendship and finding yourself...with more drug abuse, I guess, but still it's cool. And the constructive power of punk rock, of course. I relate very much to this story and I think anyone who got the short end of the popularity stick in high school likely will as well. I strongly recommend this film, especially if you, like me, enjoy films with fictional bands having adventures. One weird thing; Matthew Lillard, in addition to directing the film, is supposed to have a cameo as Troy’s therapist. The idea of Troy going to therapy is mentioned in the movie and Lillard sure as hell is listed as such in the credits but that scene was nowhere to be found in the version I watched. I assume it was cut for time but man, how painful must it have been to edit out your only scene from what could be your magnum opus? 

On the bright side he got to make his dream movie. It balances out
I give Fat Kid Rules the World 4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas


-Good main characters 

-Good script and heartwarming plot 


-Secondary character could have used more develop 

-The ending was disappointing

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