For a movie about the transformative, freeing power of punk rock there’s not a lot of deep genuine appreciation for the genre in Fat Kid Rules The World. Instead, we see the smart, relatively charming Troy transform his life simply by virtue of making some real life friends and engaging with a sub-culture that’s not played out in an MMORPG. See Troy is a suicidal, morbidly obese kid who becomes so sick of the invisible high school life of trying to catch a down-shirt glimpse of the class hottie that he takes a step in front of a speeding bus. Saved by an expelled classmate junkie, the two end up connected as Troy passively follows along with Marcus’ naked manipulation and go-nowhere scheming of forming a new punk band with Troy as the drummer.

The film’s exploration of punk is puddle-shallow, with Troy being energized more by the idea of having a friend, learning something new, and by finding an unexpected connection with his father. We see Troy comes from a sad home but, in a nice twist of convention, Billy Campbell plays the military-strict Dad as a compassionate, supportive figure that immediately recognizes his son’s opportunity for growth and, with some rules, pushes him farther into it. At this point there are some nicely evocative scenes of Troy’s first time at a rock club that capture that confusion and excitement, but it never digs deep.

Fat Kid is a well-constructed, very well acted story with enough of a unique approach to merit a viewing, but don’t look for an evocative exploration of the power of music. The real meat of the film comes from Troy’s relationship with Marcus, who teaches Troy the routine disappointment that comes with supporting an addict. The theme here has little to do with music, and everything to do with patience and family.

–Renn Brown

Fat Kid Rules The World Details:

Director(s): Matthew Lillard

Screenwriter(s): Michael M.B. Galvin, Peter Speakman

Principal Cast: Jacob Wysocki, Matt O’Leary, Lilli Simmons, Dylan Arnold, and Billy Campbell

Troy Billings is seventeen, overweight, and suicidal. Just as he’s about to jump in front of a bus, he’s saved by Marcus, a charming high school dropout/street musician. The two begin an uneasy friendship when Marcus enlists the musically challenged Troy to become the drummer in a new punk rock band. As Troy’s relationship with Marcus grows, Troy’s father becomes increasingly concerned about his son’s new friendship.

Jake Wysocki (TERRI), Matt O’Leary (NATURAL SELECTION) and Billy Campbell (THE KILLING) star in Matthew Lillard’s directorial debut based on the novel by K. L. Going and produced by Whitewater Films.