SIFF 2012: ‘Fat Kid Rules The World’ [Review]
Opening this weekend at the 38th Seattle International Film Festival is Matthew Lillard’s directorial debut, Fat Kid Rules The World. Based on the novel of the same name (by K.L. Going), the story uniquely focuses on male eating disorders. In this case, we get to see two extremes (the two brothers), while also presenting a story full of music, friendship, and hope. It certainly has its rough spots, but overall, it is a good debut.
Troy Billings (Jacob Wysocki) is an obese high school student in Seattle, WA. Besides eating, his interests include anything non-social and non-physical. With the guidance of a single, militaristic father (Billy Campbell), Troy isn’t just physically troubled – he’s emotionally off-balance. When contemplating suicide, he is rescued by Marcus (Matt O’Leary).
Marcus isn’t your typical high schooler, though. In fact, he’s technically not even in high school. The eccentric, charismatic, but still shady, punk rocker becomes a huge part of Troy’s life. With very few other friends, Troy starts to invest a lot more into a relationship than usual. The two decide to start a band together, even though Marcus can’t stick to one band for very long, and Troy doesn’t know how to play any instruments.
The juxtaposition between Troy and his brother Dayle (Dylan Arnold) shows the eating extremes. Unlike Troy, Dayle constantly monitors his consumption in order to make weight. Their father can’t quite understand what he can do to help. And, he certainly doesn’t trust Troy’s newest friend.
The music component was a fun addition, too. Smartly set to the punk rock tune, it fit in well with the Seattle setting. I don’t claim to be a huge music buff, but I did enjoy a lot of the onscreen numbers. Likewise, the music atmosphere added a lot more to the social scene. Other coming-of-age tales have relied on sports, adolescence, and romance to get the message across. However, Fat Kid Rules The World chooses a fresher route.
Marcus is really the one who brings it all to the screen. Technically, the main character is Troy. However, Marcus has much more diversity – being pretty much an adolescent drifter. Not only is he more interesting, but Matt O’Leary pulls off the part perfectly. It is difficult to judge younger actors, but I’d say O’Leary deserves a few more casting calls after this one.
With the good inevitably comes the bad. The setting, story, themes, and performances all had good and great moments. On the other hands, some of the rough cut-scenes seemed out of place. In particular, the pseudo-suicide ones were distracting.
Using a food metaphor, Fat Kid Rules The World mixes a bunch of different ingredients to create a fun little result. For a smaller budget, the film did what it could. Although there were things that seemed a bit rough and out of place, the film succeeded thematically. The coming-of-age tale doesn’t make any huge claims towards obesity (other than social implications), but mix in some music and a great performance by the young Matt O’Leary, and you’ve got a succeasful little story.
Fat Kid Rules The World is showing at SIFF at the following times:
May 18 – 7:00 PM (Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center)
May 19 – 6:30 PM (Egyptian Theatre)