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SXSW Review Capsule: 'Fat Kid Rules the World'

Photo of Steve Greene By Steve Greene | Criticwire March 11, 2012 at 4:18PM

With a solid central performance by Jacob Wysocki, Matthew Lillard's directorial debut is a solid high-school tale.
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Jacob Wysocki registered on the indie film radar with his central performance in the Spirit-nominated "Terri," starring alongside John C. Reilly. SXSW 2012 brings "Fat Kid Who Rules the World," one of the first chances for many people to see him outside of that role. Directed by Matthew Lillard (his debut as a filmmaker - audiences may remember him as the "other man" from "The Descendants"), "Fat Kid" is an adaptation of a novel written by young adult author K.L. Going.

Jacob Wysocki in "Fat Kid Rules the World"
Jacob Wysocki in "Fat Kid Rules the World"

The film is finding a warm reception (and not just among those who got free vinyl at the premiere screening). Mark Bell's review at FilmThreat praises the film for its subtle likability, winning performances and its unique visuals. "Unlike many films, where light floods the screen and images are given a well-lit, sometimes flat, base to work with, filmmaker Matthew Lillard’s debut feature instead revels in the depths of the shadows created when you go for a more natural light feel," Bell writes.

A lot of the appeal of "Fat Kid" seems centered around its honest depiction of the awkward, in-between years of high school, both of Wysocki's Troy Billings and the environment around him. John DeFore writes in his piece at The Hollywood Reporter that "one of [the film's] strengths is in depicting those high school role changes that occur in baby steps, not epiphanies.

Not all of the performances are eliciting overwhelming charm, though. In his Indiewire review, Eric Kohn argues that one of the film's weak points is Marcus, the character who helps shake Troy out of his teenage sullenness. "Alternately friendly, mean-spirited and a total wreck, Marcus contains too many inconsistencies to work as the other central character in a movie made on such a small scale," Kohn says of the misstep.

Instant Twitterverse Reaction:

"Matthew Lillard's FAT KID RULES THE WORLD floored me. A punk rock coming of age story that knocked me on my ass." - Alan Cerny, Ain't It Cool News

"FAT KID RULES THE WORLD: Wow, I really liked this. Funny, sweet, surprising teen punk rock drug abuse obesity story." - Eric D. Snider

"Billy Campbell's father character in FAT KID RULES THE WORLD may be my favorite character in a movie at SXSW." - Jacob Hall, Movies.com

"Fat Kid Rules the World, starring Jacob Wysocki from Terri and directed by Matthew Lillard, looks ace. I'm so happy teen movies are back." - Ultra Culture

This article is related to: Review Capsules, South By Southwest Film Conference and Festival (SXSW)


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