Fat Kid rules the World

Fat Kid Rules the World (2012, recently available for rental/sale) is an unusual and sensitive film directed by actor Matthew Lillard.  The main character is Troy (Jacob Wysocki), an overweight and very likeable young man who  is dealing with the death of his mother, as well as common teen problems like finding friends and an identity.  These issues push him to occasional  thoughts of suicide.

His life changes abruptly when he falls in front of a bus while daydreaming and is rescued by Marcus ( Matt O`Leary), a hyper and charming teen who almost never stops talking about his punk band.  He vigorously befriends Troy and  works his way into staying with his family.  Much of the movie`s humor comes from  the contrast between impulsive Marcus, who has been expelled from school and plans band gigs at the last minute, and dutiful Troy. You can tell that he has never questioned much before, and he`s also let issues with his weight  limit his social life.

All of that  transforms as Troy gradually becomes interested in punk/alternative music.  Marcus pushes him to become a drummer in a new band he is starting, and though reluctant at first, he keeps practicing.  Drumming becomes liberating for Troy: he realizes there is a place for him and that maybe acceptance is not as beyond him as he thought.  He also finds unexpected strength as he tries to help Marcus overcome a drug problem.

Wysocki plays Troy in an understated way that is the perfect contrast  to his friend`s frenetic personality.  He brings depth to the role, making it believeable when his outwardly calm character  finally expresses anger.  Though Marcus can be irritating at times, O`Leary endows him with a strange sensitivity as well.

Also good is Billy Campbell as Troy`s ex-Marine dad.  He`s more than a bit confused by Marcus` sudden appearance, but tries to be understanding about him.  In one scene, as he breaks Marcus out of the hospital, he sternly informs him, “You know, you`re going to rehab…but first, you have a show to play!”

To sum it up, this is a film for anyone who has ever felt different or alienated, then found a way to belong.  The characters have serious issues, yet you remain optimistic that they will work them out.  Mike Mc Cready of Pearl Jam composed some good original music for the soundtrack.  I do wish they would have  included more songs by the bands that Marcus actually talks about, like  garage band legend the Sonics.  But that doesn`t detract from the quality of the story-this is one of the best films about teens that I`ve seen in a long time.


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