The Fat Boy Chronicles | Review

THE FAT BOY CHRONICLES is a Christian distribution movie from HERITAGE FILMS . It is a film that explores bullying in a light and educational way, a film that would be suited to younger school children. Bullying is horrendous – something I suffered badly in school, and something I doubt will ever go away no matter how much education we provide on the subject. From Kernel Jordan’s review it appears the look at bullying in this is so light it barely breaks the surface, the one thing I have always found so interesting about bullying is what does make bullies actually bully? My greatest nemesis aka bully in high school I ended up discovering in my late twenties had an alcoholic junky father that used to beat him, so then I ask who got the worst bullying and that my bully was merely passing on what he knew in a father he probably desperately wanted to love. Another of my bullies I ran into when I was about twenty-five in a pub, he asked if he could buy me a drink and them apologised for everything, massive respect there! Anyways it’s not about me, enjoy Jordan’s thoughts on THE FAT BOY CHRONICLES, it runs for 78mins and will most likely be rated PG in Australia and is currently available on iTunes……all the best……JK.

 

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BY JORDAN DODD

THE FAT BOY CHRONICLES is a movie that is, for the most part, without surprises. There is no doubting the good intentions of this flick, as its heart is in the right place. It centres on bullying, which will always be an issue in our society, whether at school or elsewhere. I must say I am not a fan of the title of the film; this small indie title is more than a simple coming of age story for a young fat kid. A better title could simply be ‘adolescence’, as that is what this movie is really about.

The main narrative follows the story of over-weight freshman Jimmy Winterpock (Christopher Rivera), whose first year at high school is going to be a tough one. Initially the story is only about Jimmy, but as the movie progresses other characters are explored, some suffering in different ways due to the stresses of adolescence, whether it is because of inept parents or internal turmoil. Several side characters are followed and the recurring theme is the pain of growing up. It is inevitable, that is puberty.

Unfortunately, the way THE FAT BOY CHRONICLES develops and ends is extremely predictable and stereotypical; there was certainly no effort made to do something different with the story. Sure, it’s a great message, but it makes for a rather dull story with barely any conflict. The only conflict is when Jimmy is bullied, but during these scenes it doesn’t feel real. The bullying feels empty and poorly written; these scenes could have made for some extremely confronting viewing if done right. Unfortunately it is done in an immature and silly way – any sense of realism gone.

 

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It is during a doctor’s visit, rather than at the school, where we hear the realities of Jimmy’s situation. He is obese and the doctor warns him that if he doesn’t change something, the bullying will be the least of his worries. Playing the doctor is Ron Lester, who himself was hired as the loveable fat kid in such movies as VARSITY BLUES and NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE, when in reality his health was at serious risk. He ended up losing over 100kgs (200 pounds) in two years. He was no doubt chosen specifically to play this role, and it is one of the few genuine moments of the film; it feels real and unforced. Natural. It is a pity that more of the film doesn’t feel like this.

There are two main side characters in the story. One of these is Sable, a potential love interest for Jimmy, someone who thinks too much and suffers inside, like so many teenagers. The other is Jimmy’s best friend, who copes with the abuse of his father, who is often drunk. This is what more of this film should have been like, as a scene showing his drunk father berating his own son is very confronting and again feels real and not forced.

The acting here is solid, especially from the lead, Christopher Rivera, who plays Jimmy. All the other characters are well acted too. The great acting though suffers from a poorly written script; honestly, some of the lines sound like they could come straight from a television sit-com: “I don’t know, I guess I’m just not cool enough”.

Really? That was the best they could come up with for that scene? It just sounds so fake and unrealistic. It also calls for some over-acting, creating many scenes that just don’t have that element of realism to them, they seem almost cartoonish and created just for the narrative to function. This over-acting is at its worst when other children bully Jimmy for being fat.

 

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I have been through school, and I have suffered from bullying. I know it well and I know what it looks like. The depiction of bullies in THE FAT BOY CHRONICLES is grossly unrealistic, their taunts feeling empty rather than filled with venom. More importantly, the reason for why bullies bully isn’t explored at all, which arguably is as important an issue as bullying itself.

Why do people bully? What is it that causes someone to lash out at others for no good reason? Don’t ask the makers of this film, as they have no intention of digging deep at all.

And that is another thing this film lacks: depth. It is shallow, the characters are barely fleshed out, and the entire thing is over in less than eighty minutes, which I would usually commend, but it feels like so much more could have been said about the issue.

With all this said though, THE FAT BOY CHRONICLES does create a believable and likeable main character in Jimmy, and I found myself rooting for him as the film went on, despite its flaws. This isn’t something I would watch again, and I’m not sure I could recommend it, apart for maybe educational reasons, but it is a well-made and well-acted film. If only the script and realism were on point; that combined with a unique story could have made for a great movie. This however is mediocre: not great, but not terrible either.

 

2 and a Half Pops

 

 

Jordan Dodd is an aspiring novelist hailing from Adelaide, Australia. His first book is a chronicle of his experiences in a rehab centre that was more of a cult than anything else, and his goal is to finish it and pitch it to someone who matters. It can be found here. He also enjoys writing about film, which is probably his biggest obsession (apart from writing). When not writing for Salty Popcorn Jordan has his own website – he can be contacted via www.epilepticmoondancer.net