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Fat Kid Rules The World (A Movie Review)


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Fat Kid Rules the World



Years ago, actor Matthew Lillard was hired to record the book on tape version of a young adult novel called Fat Kid Rules the World.  Little did he know, the job was a date with destiny.  He explained it in a recent interview he did with me about the film.  “When I was doing the book on tape and I was reading it for the first time, I found myself very drawn to the characters and the story.  I had a really significant emotional connection to the whole thing.  I think that what I saw in it was the story of an underdog.  It’s the story of a kid who is lost.  For me in high school, I didn’t find punk rock music [like the hero of the book], I found acting.  That discovery in my life changed my life.  It gave me hope and a direction in life.”This started Lillard on a long road to making his first film as a director.  He optioned the book ten years ago.  Finally, after years of pounding the sidewalks to get it made, Fat Kid Rules the World is reaching cinemas.

It is a fascinating, not necessarily overly commercial story, so it will be interesting to see what kind of audience it can reach.  However, if Fat Kid is occasionally flawed or unfocused, it is one of the most humane and nuanced looks at society’s outcasts since Ghost World about ten years ago.

The Fat Kid of the title is Troy, played with humor and bravery by Jacob Wysocki, who starred in last year’s Terri.  Troy is at a complete low point.  He is overweight, mocked or ignored by his classmates, a disappointment to his retired Marine Sgt. dad (Billy Campbell) and younger brother.  He has no real interests (except perhaps eating), no real hopes or aspirations and no belief that things are going to ever get better.

At rock bottom, he decides to throw himself if front of an oncoming bus, however at the last minute his life is saved by Marcus (Matt O’Leary), a drug-addicted, homeless former classmate and musician.  Marcus is not romantic about his chivalry – after saving the kid he hits him up for money – but an odd friendship and alliance between the two outcasts gives them both a new purpose.

However, this does not mean that their relationship is necessarily good for either of them.  They are each using each other in different ways.  Still, somehow, their neuroses and their needs fuel each other.

Lillard does an interesting thing here as a director.  Fat Kid Rules the World lives in two parallel universes.  The high school scenes and the parties have all been seen before – well mostly.  Yet there is also a much deeper level that is more subjective, these characters are shown to be fascinatingly complex and often contradictory, just like real people.

This slight schizophrenia makes watching Fat Kid bumpy going sometimes, but for the most part it is a surprisingly interesting look at two of life’s “losers.”

Jay S. Jacobs

    Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 6, 2012.

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