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SXSW Reviews: Nature Calls / Fat Kid Rules the World

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There have been tons of great films at this year’s South by Southwest Festival like “Cabin in the Woods” and “The Raid: Redemption” – and then there’s the disappointing ones, “The Comedy, “Frankie Go Boom,” and “Small Apartments” to name a few.

There are, inevitably, those films that are entirely decent and entertaining, but can’t quite attain greatness. Two films that fall into that category are “Nature Calls” and Matthew Lillard’s directorial debut, “Fat Kid Rules the World,” which deserves more buzz than it’s getting.

Nature Calls

Directed by Todd Rohal, “Nature Calls” stars Rob RigglePatton Oswalt and Johnny Knoxville and feels like the backwoods cousin of “Wet Hot American Summer” and “Troop Beverly Hills.”

The film is about Randy (Patton Oswalt) and Kirk (Johnny Knoxville), polar-opposite brothers who never see eye-to-eye. Randy is a Boy Scout enthusiast, following in the footsteps of his Scout Master father who’s no longer able to lead the troop.

Kirk on the other hand never cared much for merit badges and camping trips, and has evolved into the stereotypical douchebag, complete with Bluetooth headset. Rob Riggle plays Kirk’s best friend and co-worker, who is deranged and sets terrible examples for children by screaming and cursing constantly.

Overall, the film is funny (and shocking at times) but altogether forgettable. Most of the film’s comedic moments are improvised by masters of the craft like the late Patrice O’Neal and Oswalt, but the film never quite hits its stride – and honestly I found myself enjoying the Q&A with Rob Riggle after the screening than the film itself.

Fat Kid Rules the World

Directed by Matthew Lillard, star of Freddie Prinze Jr.’s extensive filmography and the “Scooby-Doo” movies, has made his directorial debut with “Fat Kid Rules the World” – based on the young adult novel by Kelly L. Going. It’s a coming of age story about Troy, an overweight kid (Jacob Wysocki) struggling with making friends beyond the realms of online roleplaying games.

He meets Marcus (Matt O’Leary), a high school dropout and punk rock guitarist. The two begin an awkward friendship when Marcus enlists the musically challenged Troy as drummer of his new punk rock band, The Tectonics. As Troy and Marcus begin hanging out more, Troy’s father (Billy Campbell) becomes increasingly concerned about his son’s new friendship.

“Fat Kid Rules the World” was kind of a slow burn, it took a while to get started – but then it really won me over with the performances. O’Leary was charming as the dropout drug addict who might actually make something of himself if he could just clean up, and Wysocki was entirely relatable and likable as Troy. While the story isn’t really anything new, it’s still a very solid directorial debut for Lillard, who most recently co-starred in “The Descendants.”

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Author: ADAM FRAZIER
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