Despite unoriginal plot, actors race past obstacle
After playing a zombie killer, a zealous cop fighting off a homicidal neighborhood watch and a bearded cannibal, Simon Pegg comes back to the big screen to act in a romantic comedy about commitments and running a marathon. Thankfully, despite several cliched points, good acting and British humor saved this film from being the inspirational type of movie that belongs in the 80s.
Pegg plays Dennis, a slightly overweight, middle-aged man afraid of commitment. So afraid in fact, that he leaves his fiancé, Libby (Thandie Newton) pregnant at the wedding. He eventually realizes his mistake and tries, and fails, to win her back several times. This cycle of rejection continues until a new man, Whit (Hank Azaria), steps into Libby's life.
Although initially Whit acts friendly with Dennis, Dennis doesn't trust him and also fails at matching him in any way. In addition to his personal problems, Dennis has financial issues with his landlord Mr. Goshdashtidar (Harish Patel) and his disproportionately attractive daughter Maya (India de Beaufort). With his situation looking bleak, Dennis decides to compete in the Nike River-Run Marathon to prove to Libby that he can change and that Walt is not the man for her.
On the surface it appears to be a relatively unimaginative plot, but thankfully, Pegg, who co-wrote the script, is able to inject some humor into the situation. Funny arrives in the form of Gordon (Dylan Moran), Dennis' lifelong friend, cousin to Libby and temporary coach, partly motivated by the $5000 bet he has with a loan shark that Dennis would finish the marathon. After not finding a charity to run for (a requirement for the race) Gordon gets the National Erectile Dysfunction Awareness to sponsor Dennis. Like in their previous films, Moran and Pegg work very well together.
The movie focuses mainly on the time before the race, but Pegg does an amazing job conveying what it is like to be the slowest and last one left on the course. It's lonely, it's embarrassing and it's 20 times worse when donning a National Erectile Dysfunction Awareness t-shirt on live television.
Even though the unoriginal plot can be masked by humor, there are times when the movie is just unequivocally unrealistic. In reality, if a groom left a bride at the altar, pregnant, confused and alone, would the bride let the groom back into her life? Let alone be allowed to see the kid? Similarly, if a tenant were months behind on their rent would a rational landlord honestly keep them as a tenant in a city like London where it's not cheap to live? What was truly odd was the decision to make Whit into a nice but secretly, eerily competitive and neurotic American. The only time "run fat boy run" is ever said is by Whit at the starting line, which seems odd given most Americans' litigious and politically correct nature.
Of course, as any true fan of Pegg's best work will realize, none of his movies have been realistic but they still deserve status of utter brilliance that they enjoy. Although this is not brilliant, it is not horrible either.
This film is rated PG-13 for some rude and sexual humor, nudity, language and smoking. It is now playing in theaters everywhere.
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