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Fat Kid Rules the World DVD Review

Fat Kid Rules the World (2012) movie poster Fat Kid Rules the World

Theatrical Release: October 5, 2012 / Running Time: 99 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Matthew Lillard / Writers: K.L. Going (novel); Michael M.B. Galvin, Peter Speakman (screenplay)

Cast: Jacob Wysocki (Troy Billings), Matt O'Leary (Marcus Macrae), Lili Simmons (Isabel), Dylan Arnold (Dayle Billings), Billy Campbell (Mr. Billings), Tyler Trerise (Manoj), Russell Hodgkinson (Marcus' Stepfather), Sean Donovan (Ollie), Julian Gavilanes (Matt), Jeffrey Doornbos (Mr. Sherman), Vivan Dugré (Victoria the Waitress)

Buy Fat Kid Rules the World on DVD from Amazon.com

Like his fellow obese young actors Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) and Nikki Blonsky (Hairspray), Jacob Wysocki hopes to extend his acting career beyond one notable film role, in spite of being about as far physically from the Hollywood standard as possible. Wysocki, whose career began alongside Blonsky in the ABC Family fat camp dramedy series "Huge", didn't have such a big breakout in Terri, a warmly-reviewed but little-seen 2011 independent film co-starring John C. Reilly.
Wysocki's newest turn as leading man comes in a film called Fat Kid Rules the World, which had even less box office impact, playing in a single theater for supposedly just three days.

Fat Kid, adapted from K.L. Going's 2003 young adult novel of the same name, stars Wysocki as Troy Billings, an enormous 17-year-old Seattle outcast who's ready to give up on life. He steps in front of an oncoming bus, only to be thrown to safety by Marcus Macrae (Matt O'Leary), a garage band veteran expelled from Troy's high school who's hooked on prescription drugs and doesn't have a stable home.

Troy's unwanted saving is the start of an unusual friendship, of which his stern father (Billy Campbell) disapproves. But Mr. Billings, a widowed ex-Marine susceptible to reverse psychology, sees that an interpersonal relationship might do his family's blubbery black sheep some good and at least shake up the boy's existence of multi-player online gaming and endless junk food. Thus, a drum kit is purchased and placed in Troy's room and Troy is reluctantly allowed to attend, with some firmly-established guidelines, spontaneous music concerts.

Troy Billings (Jacob Wysocki) is a suicidal teen who takes up drumming in "Fat Kid Rules the World." Marcus Macrae (Matt O'Leary), Troy's unlikely new friend, battles with a prescription drug addiction.

Soon, though, Mr. Billings cannot overlook the troubled Marcus' negative influence on Troy and thus he dashes the duo's band aspirations before they can really even take shape. All that means, of course, is that Troy simply keeps his friendship secret, all the while fantasizing about the females he encounters and taking special interest in Isabel (Lili Simmons), a classmate who digs the bustling local punk scene.

Fat Kid Rules the World is kind of a tough film to assess. It is supremely watchable, but never that good. For an R-rated indie film, it's not as dark and edgy as you'd expect; it's definitely more appealing than Wysocki's comparable Terri in that sense. But it's got more of an edge than the elongated ABC Family episode it occasionally feels like. Refreshingly, it doesn't rely on the tired old high school cliques and archetypes. At the same time, its limited depiction of adolescence isn't overflowing with realism, and, though depressingly depicted, we never get a sense of why Troy would consider suicide, as food and online gaming bring him joy.

As a gentle giant with prominent rosacea and ill-fitting clothes, Wysocki's acting range is narrow but effective. In his far juicier and more demanding role, Matt O'Leary is more impressive. Billy Campbell is good as the father with conflicting impulses and wishes.

Billy Campbell plays the stern but loving widower Mr. Billings. Classmate and punk rock fan Isabel (Lili Simmons) is friendly enough to Troy.

Picking up their first film credits since the similarly frankly titled 1999 indie Freak Talks About Sex, screenwriters Michael M.B. Galvin and Peter Speakman do not seem to possess conventional mainstream sensibilities.
That is to their benefit critically (Fat Kid drew an impressive 82% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, albeit with a very mediocre average ratings of 6.1 and 5.5), but gives them little hope of sustaining a career in the commercially-minded business.

Making his feature directorial debut here is Matthew Lillard, an actor who is beginning to live down a legacy of bad movies (including the two Scooby-Doo movies that cast him as Shaggy, She's All That, Summer Catch, Thir13een Ghosts, and In the Name of the King) with some roles in more respectable fare (such as The Descendants and Trouble with the Curve). He is perfectly competent in the helm, not trying to make a name for himself with anything too flashy, but doing an adequate job of balancing surreal comedy and underwhelming earnestness.

ARC Entertainment brings Fat Kid, which raised $150,000 of its modest budget on Kickstarter, to home video in Tuesday's DVD-only release.

Fat Kid Rules the World DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: None
Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled or Captioned
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Suggested Retail Price: $14.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase


ARC treats Fat Kid to an adequate DVD presentation. Neither the film's photography nor its transfer will make a huge impression on you, but the element remains clean, sufficiently sharp, and appropriately colored. Sound is offered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and plain stereo, again with fine but unremarkable results. The DVD fails to supply subtitles, offering only closed captions, which are increasingly insufficient as the number of HDMI cable connections continues to rise.

First-time director Matthew Lillard sports a goatee and a pink shirt as he sounds off in the making-of featurette. The trailer for "Fat Kid Rules the World" succinctly expresses the change in its hero's outlook.


Fat Kid is joined by five numbered behind-the-scenes featurettes. Actually "featurettes" seems like an overstatement and oversimplification, because each piece is short and varies in content.
They range from complete takes of used musical moments to deletions (including Matthew Lillard playing a terrible school psychologist in a cameo you figured he had to shoot and for which he remains credited) and extensions to one crudely-produced making-of featurette with cast and crew interviews. Altogether, they run 20 minutes and 15 seconds, though no "Play All" option is supplied.

A Fat Kid trailer (1:38) is also kindly included.

The disc opens with trailers for Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D and Greystone Park, neither of which is menu accessible.

The main menu play clips in a Polaroid photo behind the cover pose. Submenus are static and silent.

Troy (Jacob Wysocki) peeks his head out in advance of an oncoming bus. The character of Marcus (Matt O'Leary) seems pretty clearly inspired by Kurt Cobain and was even named "Curt" in the book.


Fat Kid Rules the World is not a movie that will appeal to a wide audience, but those that find this film, quite possibly entering with an appreciation for the novel, might like it. While director Matthew Lillard and company make more good choices than bad ones, the subject matter -- suicidalness, punk rock, prescription drugs -- surely will not be everyone's cup of tea. Meeting expectations squarely, the DVD arrives with an unusually and attractively low price.

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Reviewed January 20, 2013.

Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 Arc Entertainment, Whitewater Films, Whippany Park Productions.
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