Fat Kid Rules The World: SXSW Reviews

Troy (Jacob Wysocki) is the typical lonely, miserable overweight high school kid. One day he decided he’s had enough and attempts suicide. The attempt fails as high school dropout and local teenage music legend Marcus (Matt O’Leary) pushes him out of the way. Troy isn’t happy and Marcus asks for twenty dollars in exchange for the gesture. Troy returns to school and is surprised to find Marcus there. He tries to avoid him but is outrun. Marcus tries to convince Troy they should form a band together regardless of Troy’s inability to play the drums. As Troy sees Marcus is homeless and in need of help, an unlikely friendship is formed. While dad (Billy Campbell) isn’t thrilled to see his son spending so much time with a drug addict, he supports Troy to the point of surprising him with a drum set.

The film goes on to explore Troy’s weight problem, his mother’s death and Marcus’ own destructive path. By the end an odd new family dynamic has formed. The film stays true to the young adult nature of the original book. It is a very cute, ultimately feel-good story, but it never gets too sweet and remains rightfully grounded. The support Troy receives from his family is truly remarkable and a rare treat when most films only want to examine life’s problems. Nobody is perfect but there is also a remarkable amount of love.

The two lead actors in this film are especially effective. Matt O’Leary does an impeccable job at being both excruciatingly annoying and oddly endearing. While his performance does make the character seem much more than his supposed 18 years old, Marcus is always real. Jacob Wysocki meanwhile continues with what he does best here. His character doesn’t differ tremendously from those in Huge or Terri but his charm and sincerity bring the perfect humanity to Troy. Everybody knows a Troy and at some point everyone has certainly felt like him.

What’s most unique about the film, other than the friendship, is the freshness that comes from making a film about teenagers that does present urges and natural attractions, but doesn’t turn into the clichéd love story that is seen over and over again. Troy doesn’t end up with the girl but then he doesn’t really need to either. It’s nice to see a film that is allowed to breathe.

Perhaps the film’s most disappointing quality is also one of the most admirable. The film can be best compared to an ABC Family show. While the topic is honest and does contain some heavy material with the drug use, at the end it is still family friendly. To the point where anything is possible and by the end everything is wrapped up perfectly. It’s not the most complex of stories. Yet at the same time, for what it is, it really is a stand out. Young or old there is something to love here for everyone.