SXSW '12! Nordling Says FAT KID RULES THE WORLD Is Heartfelt, Funny, And A Punk Rock Winner!
Frankly, I didn’t know Matthew Lillard had it in him. But FAT KID RULES THE WORLD, based on the novel by K. L. Going, is a sweet, heartfelt punk rock coming of age story that floored me. Funny and emotional, FAT KID RULES THE WORLD will play to a mainstream audience as well as punk kids of all ages. I was surprised by how touching the movie gets at times – I heard a lot of sniffling in the theater during the more emotional scenes, some of it coming from myself – and the end result is a winning movie that, if all is right with the world, will find decent distribution. I could see this one becoming a teenage classic. I think John Hughes would have approved.
Troy (Jacob Wysocki) is that kid in school that just doesn’t exist in the social sphere, although you wouldn’t know it to look at him – he’s 300 pounds of teenager in a world that would never give him the time of day. When not playing online games and eating, he spends most of the time imagining ways in which he happily dies, often with explosive gore. Troy’s mother is dead; his taciturn military father (Billy Campbell) doesn’t quite know what to do with him, and his younger brother is embarrassed by him. One day, Troy decides to act on his suicidal fantasy and steps in front of an oncoming bus.
But before the bus can slam into him, he’s hurled out of the way by the unlikeliest hero imaginable – Marcus (Matt O’ Leary), a local burnout and recently expelled from the high school Troy attends. Marcus and Troy form a bond of sorts – Marcus isn’t above using Troy for his own personal needs, but he develops a genuine affection for him, and decides that Troy would be perfect for his new band. Slowly, Troy comes out of his shell, but Marcus’s addictions threaten to cripple them both.
The performances in FAT KID RULES THE WORLD are across the board terrific. As Troy opens up to his family and to Marcus, Jacob Wysocki is admirably restrained and his work feels genuine. We root for Troy as he explores this new punk rock world and wish him the best. The same goes for Matt O’Leary, who manipulates everything and everyone around him, but winds up feeling protective of Troy and their unlikely friendship is honest and true. But the performance of the movie belongs to Billy Campbell, who is fantastic as the stern father, a strict disciplinarian that could have gone completely cliché but instead takes a different approach that completely works. He sees his son finally interacting with the world and loves him with all his heart, even if he can’t show it. His work is phenomenal here, and is one of my favorite performances of the year so far.
Matthew Lillard has a deft touch with the humor as well as the emotion – I’ve rarely seen a first film directed so confidently. Lillard was first introduced to the material when he did an audio recording of the book nine years ago, and once he read it, he had to have it. It was a nine year struggle to make the movie he wanted to make, with no compromises. This is the Lillard of SLC PUNK working here. It feels like Lillard has lived this world and knows the people in it very intimately. The film is often hilarious, especially when Troy imagines various scenarios that often end with him dying in spectacular fashion. The music, by Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, works tonally with the film and Lillard uses the punk rock soundtrack very well, especially in one scene when Troy and Marcus make music together, and it becomes a revelation for both of them.
There’s no reason FAT KID RULES THE WORLD shouldn’t get distribution –it plays very well to a crowd and I could see kids embracing the movie’s message and performances. FAT KID RULES THE WORLD has really stuck with me, and Lillard, with his feature film directing debut, navigates the uncomfortable waters of adolescence with sensitivity and humor. One of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had at SXSW this year, and I hope everyone gets to see this very soon.
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
+ Expand All
March 13, 2012, 2:56 p.m. CST
March 13, 2012, 3:46 p.m. CST
by Robert Evans
seriously..theres some comedy gold in there.
March 13, 2012, 4:09 p.m. CST
It's going to be quite a struggle for all the assholes on here to bitch and moan about it, FACT!
March 13, 2012, 4:22 p.m. CST
There's a fat kid in this but he doesn't end up ruling the world.
March 13, 2012, 5:18 p.m. CST
March 13, 2012, 8:27 p.m. CST
I'm gonna assume that he wrote a sort of contemporary score for the movie, because you cannot use Pearl Jam and Punk in the same context. Like, AT ALL. That said, what kind of "punk" music are we talking about here? The watered down pouty-pop industry friendly Hot Topic shit or the real deal (Circle Jerks, pre-Rollins Black Flag, Meatmen, Original lineup Misfits etc) because that, my friend, will make a world of difference. This coming from someone who got the shit kicked out of him for having a bonafide mohawk decades before it came fun and fashionable to do so.
March 13, 2012, 9:22 p.m. CST
...or at least had plenty to say about it...and I'm stoked to see Lillard still working...
March 14, 2012, 1:27 a.m. CST
...on the otherhand, who's the cock fag who said *fat records*? All this time I thought it was *wreck chords*. Oh well, potato potato. I hate to be that guy, but lately Nordling sounds like a...I don't know how to say this...Dildo?
March 14, 2012, 4:09 a.m. CST
SLC Punk rules and have always liked Lillard in his non-shaggy roles :-)
March 14, 2012, 4:09 a.m. CST
- Capone feels slightly in limbo about HEAVEN IS FOR REAL!!! -- 479 total posts 198 posts
- HERCULES ON THE RADIO!! Learn What Ain’t It Cool’s TV Critic Thinks Of The First Jack Bauer 24 Adventure Since 2010!! Plus GAME OF THRONES, MAD MEN, HANNIBAL, AGENTS OF SHIELD, And More!! And The Return Of FX MOVIE DOWNLOAD Star Sasha Perl-Raver!! Listen And Call In LIVE Saturday 8pm PT / 11pm ET!! -- 299 total posts 149 posts
- Harry rambles fondly about Eli Roth's THE GREEN INFERNO a real red meat Jungle Cannibalism kinda movie! -- 328 total posts 82 posts
- ‘I Have Something To Say To The People Of Meereen!!’ The Stormborn Returns For Tonight’s Third GAME OF THRONES Of 2014!! -- 56 total posts 56 posts
- Capone desperately wants to pull the plug on TRANSCENDENCE!!! -- 255 total posts 35 posts
- Watch the Opening 3 Minutes of Joss Whedon's IN YOUR EYES! -- 223 total posts 33 posts
- Does This X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST International Poster Get you X-Cited?? -- 590 total posts 24 posts
- Papa Vinyard Saw THE HATEFUL EIGHT Script Reading Last Night And Here's His Review! -- 21 total posts 21 posts
- ‘Why Don’t We Just Start Our Own Agency??’ Sunday Brings One Of The 13 Final MAD MENs!! -- 16 total posts 16 posts
- So, what's Steven Spielberg's slate looking like these days? -- 208 total posts 15 posts