Rated R, 2 1/2 stars
While teen losers who get in touch with their inner superkids, however unrealistically, may abound on screen, rarely do those movies tackle the troubles of major obese afflicted minors. And though Fat Kid Rules The World does lay too many of its cards on the table with its giveaway title alone, the pleasures to be garnered from this Matthew Lillard indie directed debut are more about the journey there, rather than the Hollywood-ish destination.
Jacob Wysocki is Troy, a way beyond chubby Seattle seventeen year old high schooler who is so consumed with self-disgust that he’s been secretly contemplating suicide. And when stepping in front of a bus one day on his way to school in order to end his life, Troy is saved on the spur of the moment by runaway homeless local teen, Marcus (Matt O’Leary).
But it seems that Troy’s troubles may have just begun. As cunning Marcus is into cheerfully but persistently prying out of too self-absorbed and gloomy not to be accommodating Troy, seemingly endless compensation in the form of money, food and shelter for his perhaps bad Samaritan deed.
Though where Troy accesses these endless infusions of cash is oddly never explained. Especially living as he does in a bare bones household with his stern widowed ex-marine single dad (Billy Campbell), and trim, athletic favored kid brother (Dylan Arnold). And whether to keep the con on Troy going, too high on drugs to know the difference, or maybe a little bit of both – which is never quite developed to satisfactory explanation either – Marcus invites Troy to play drums (which he never actually has before) in his newly contemplated punk band.
And that eventually but unconvincingly leads to Troy teaching himself how to play, and then segueing into a package deal overnight sensation and instant popular kid himself, between bouts of emotional over-eating. But which does not exactly supply a positive message for overweight teens, with adulation derived from drumming rather downsized portions as the cure.
Fat Kid Rules The World, like most other movies helmed by actors turned directors – in this case first time director and popular star Lillard (Scooby-Doo!, Trouble With The Curve) – seems to suffer a similarly predictable fate. Namely, more weight, no pun, given to expressive acting than solid storytelling. Which in the case of the former is just fine, but the rather skimpy latter leaves a great deal to be desired.