This is the subtext of this weekends British films. Both are “not all that funny” comedies, and both feature commitment shy London men realising the errors of their ways. In Someone Else this manifests in a realistically shit but mature break-up where Stephen Mangan leaves long-term girlfriend Susan Lynch for the titular “Someone Else”. In Run Fatboy Run Simon Pegg leaves a pregnant Thandie Newton at the altar without saying a word. By the nature of the films, Mangan comes across as a much worse person than Pegg despite doing something which is pretty routine in relationships – namely splitting up.
Of course the point of Someone Else is to dwell on this relatively inconsequential mistake, and to show how miserable this has made him. The point of Run Fatboy Run is to show a fat person running a marathon. The relative success of each film therefore should not necessarily be judged by how entertaining either of them are (they are both about as entertaining as each other) but to consider these aims and how well they are attained.
1: WORTH OF AIM
Someone Else: Showing the consequences of being a feckless commitment-phobe is laudable, and the method used (a reversal of power over who gets dumped) clearly show sit can happen to anyone. Whilst a touch heavy going, Mangan’s misery at the end of the film shows that being feckless is a BAD THING.
Run Fatboy Run: Fat people, running, are funny. Which does not quite stretch to DON’T BE FAT in the film, as fat people are also nicer than super-fit Americans.
2: SET-UP TO ACHIEVE AIM
Someone Else: As anyone who has watch Green Wing will know, Mangan can do self-deluding egoist to a tee. As such putting him in the centre surrounded by solid character actors like Susan Lynch, and with a script which is gently funny and relys on Mangan to do his schtick is enough.
Run Fatboy Run: Simon Pegg is not fat. He is not even vaguely unfit looking. This is a severe hinderance to a plot whose main aim is to indeed watch a “fatboy” run.
3: SUCCESS IN ACHIEVING AIM
Someone Else: Almost total. Perhaps use of a cover version of “Back For Good” in the last sequence is over-egging the pudding, but in Someone Else’s wonderfully short running time we see the fall of a twat, which is always nice to see.
Run Fatboy Run: You never get to see a fat person run. This is a problem. If the aim is reuniting Newton & Pegg then fine, but they should never have split up.
Conclusion, on their own terms, Someone Else is a much better film. Perhaps the only way it could be improved would be for Mangan’s character to see Run Fatboy Run and consider an elaborate marathon based plot which will save his relationship. The difference of course being that one film aims for fantasy, and feelgood platitudes, the other aspires to tell it like it is. The odd thing is that the fantasy ends up a lot less satisfying than the miserable reality (this is despite the final sequence of Run Fatboy Run trying to suggest that it takes more than running a marathon to win back you estranged ex). Yet again the whole thing could just be down to the realtive likeability of the leads.
Whatever. London Mens Be Being Rubbidge.