By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on May 26, 2012)
Fat Kid Rules the World marks the directorial debut for Matthew Lillard (who surprised many by revealing previously untapped depth as an actor in The Descendants last year). Lillard’s film, a sort of Gen Y take on Boudou Saved From Drowning (with a touch of Times Square) centers on a socially awkward high-school student named Troy (Jacob Wysocki) who lives in a cramped Seattle apartment with his ex-jarhead dad (Billy Campbell) and snotty younger brother.
One day, our glum hero is seized by a suicidal impulse and throws himself in front of a bus. He is saved by guitarist/street kid/Oxy junkie Marcus (Matt O’Leary), who demands $20 for the “service”. It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship, with Marcus playing a punk rock Henry Higgins to the arrhythmic Troy’s Eliza Doolittle, encouraging him to locate his inner Cobain and learn to play the drums so they can storm the Seattle music scene. Marcus falls in love with a cute alternachick at school. He discovers rhythm. Life lessons are learned. Director and cast have their hearts in the right place, but it all sinks into a morass of After School Special clichés.