Fat Kid Rules the World was an official selection at SXSW Film Festival in 2012 and it received an Audience Award as a Narrative Spotlight of the festival. Fat Kid Rules the World is the debut feature film from director Matthew Lillard (and yes, I do mean that Matthew Lillard, the smart comedic actor who is best known as an actor in the live-action Scooby Doo films, Scream, and many other projects). The film production is based on the acclaimed novel by Kelly L. Going, and it is one with a decent degree of fans who undoubtedly hoped for a film adaptation.
The film's story centers upon a seventeen year old kid named Troy (Jacob Wysocki), and yes, he is overweight. Troy's story remains the central element of the film and it is this element that can help to make the story stand out from most teen dramas and storylines. Unlike most movies, the main role is played by an overweight actor and the focus of the film is to center around a social outsider (to the extent that he has fewer friends and spends more time at home than going out places) and who has a lifestyle that isn't as commonly reflected in motion pictures.
This is a narrative about a social loner and his journey to rediscovery and to new friendships and new courage to face the world. How does this happen for Troy? Troy meets the troubled Marcus (Matt O' Leary), who struggles with his own problems while at the same time saving Troy from ending his life to the front of a passing bus. It isn't long before Marcus and Troy become buddy (quality) friends who aim to form a rock band together. The adventures (and misadventures?) in attempting to form their band and to improve themselves and their happiness in life - this really becomes the main aspect of the storyline. Fat Kid Rules the World aims to reach out to a young audience f individuals who are in need of a positive message about individuality and friendship.
The film was made in Seattle, WA and it was a low-budget indie project with a lot of clear spirit on display throughout the film. This was clearly something important for those individuals who became involved in its journey into film production: from behind the scenes and throughout the expansive additions of crew and cast, this was more of a personal project for those involved in helping it to be made.
Following the film's completion, a Kickstarter project designed to raise funds to help distribute and promote the film was even started by the director, Matthew Lillard. Something about this project really struck home for this family style crew. The distribution funding aimed at fans, supporters, and other interested individuals met the intended goal on Kickstarter in 2 months. Lillard's campaign managed to raise over $150,000 for promotion and distribution (and now there's even a DVD to accompany the results of their met goal). This is possibly going to be something utilized much more in the future for indie productions and for other projects that struggle to become financed.
Veronica Mars: The Movie Project just made news headlines by becoming the largest and fastest growing film campaign project in Kickstarter's history by raising over two million from fans in less than 24 hours to fund a return to the beloved series with a Veronica Mars film. Audiences around the world: Meet Kickstarter. It's a massive game-changer in the way the industry will work for smaller films to be produced and released. Fat Kid Rules the World is another piece connected to this new and growing trend in the way films can be produced and distributed.
Matthew Lillard has crafted a well-made (if imperfect) tribute to teenagers everywhere with Fat Kid Rules the World. It's a movie that attempts to wear it's heart on its sleeve, and for the most part, I think it succeeded. The film manages to work because of the enthused direction and as a result of some fine acting from Jacob Wysocki and Matt O' Leary as the central characters.
It's interesting how low-key and indie this film feels while also feeling as though it could be the kind of work aimed towards a wider and broader audience base. I wasn't perfectly pleased with every aspect of the film (it's still clearly a first time director's film effort by all accounts), but I was impressed by what worked with the strong performances and this generally energetic vibe created throughout the effort. The film has a clear and genuinely well-intentioned care for the characters, and it tells the story in a way that's never a bore for audiences and that is certainly worthwhile as a character study and exploration.
Fat Kid Rules the World does have a few detractors though, and I will mention them in passing: the entire film suffers somewhat from some weak camera movements, a low-fi backdrop, and production qualities that seem to rival only television made-for-TV productions of yesteryear. However, the spirit and energy exhibited by the film is much more pleasant and ambitious to behold. This is a decent film with a good message at its core and it is one that any interested individuals should seek out for those reasons.
Matthew Lillard still has some improvements looming ahead of his work in the directing game, it seems, but he shows enough skill with this effort to make me an interested fan who is curious about whatever he choose to direct next and I sincerely hope this is only the beginning of an interesting directing career for him. Fans of Lillard (the actor) should seek out the beginning work on display here from Lillard; a newly minted director with a mission.
The video quality on this DVD release is exceptional and far more impressive than I would have expected for a low budget independent production. I am not over-exaggerating, either. The film has so many tremendous moments of clarity and depth that it looks almost like it is actually in High Definition.
Of course, Fat Kid Rules the World isn't actually presented on DVD in High Definition but that doesn't mean the film hasn't received a top rate transfer that represents the film in a stellar way that is sure to please viewers with strongly defined colors; good filmic qualities that make it an even more standout film with theatrical flair, and nice detail reproduction. This is a pleasantly surprising transfer and it does not disappoint. The film itself is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio (preserving the vision presented with the theatrical exhibition).
Fat Kid Rules the World has an immersive 5.1 surround sound presentation that utilizes the music, sound effects, and other aural qualities in an effective way. The sound design is very important to the film (especially because the lead characters attempt to form a band and the music heard in the film plays a big role as a result) and the presentation excels from start to conclusion.
The only extras included are a small selection of brief Deleted Scenes and a short featurette about the making of the film. These are extremely brief featurettes (and they are improperly labeled as being behind the scenes featurettes, which really isn't as accurate a description). Fans may see these as worthwhile supplements because they offer some minor insights into the editing of it, but it's hardly substantial material with any particular noteworthiness. There's only a couple minutes of material included.
Fat Kid Rules the World is a pretty good movie and it is a clearly well intentioned attempt at telling a story of teenagers struggling to come to terms with themselves. The film isn't ever perfect in filmmaking or scope, but it does tell it's tale surprisingly well and it promises an interesting future for actor Lillard as a director should he decide to pursue any filmmaking projects going forward. It's at least worth renting for the unfamiliar but fans of the book, audiences who saw the film during its festival run, and established fans should consider purchasing it.