Year Released: 2008
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 91 minutes
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Have you ever had someone tell you a joke that you didn’t find funny, but then they start laughing in such a genuine way that it’s infectious and so you start laughing a little too? Foreign comedies are kind of like that. Humour is hard to translate. Often you don’t “get” the joke but you still sort of know that it’s funny because the film, if it knows what it’s doing, clues you in. So you smile a lot and have some fun anyway.
These were my thoughts as I sat down to watch “Fatso,” a Norwegian comedy. Now, the only thing I know about Norway is that Norwegians aren’t Swedes, and the only reason I know that is because I’ve watched John Carpenter’s “The Thing” a lot. I can’t even hazard a guess about the Norwegian sense of humour, but I’m about to find out.
Aspiring cartoonist Rino, an overweight shut-in with a bad haircut, atrocious glasses and the social skills of someone who’s been living in a mine for the last fifty million years (IE: The typical fanboy) is forced by his father to take on a roommate. Luckily and unluckily for him, it’s a bouncy and flirty twenty year old Swedish girl named Malin. Yes, she’s hot, but she may as well be a martian for all the good it does Rino. The entirety of his relationship with women until she came along has been trying to hide his boner from the sales girl at the supermarket when he walks up to her lane.
Rino’s best friend is Filip, one of those sadly familiar types who hang around lonely, awkward guys because it makes them feel better about themselves and because nobody else can stand the sons of bitches. He drinks a lot, boasts a lot, and doesn’t quite like the idea of Rino making friendly with that girl because he’s built himself up by pushing Rino down for such a long time that any success from the boy would feel like twice his failure.
There’s a few ways things could have gone with this film. The American way, where it would be wall-to-wall tits interspersed with gross-out gags and everyone suffering from “Three’s Company” double-entendre disease; the German way, which would end with Malin’s head in a freezer and Rino making his own very lifelike pocket pussy as Rammstein’s version of “Goodbye Horses” plays over the end credits; then there’s the Norwegian way, which really doesn’t go to any specific extreme and is just a very sweet little film about a lonely man learning to socialize with other human beings and experiencing the joy and sadness that this brings. Rino isn’t a would-be rapist. Malin isn’t an airhead slut. Most people in the film are quite friendly and normal. Even Filip isn’t so bad in the end.
I do have to say that I’m a bit disappointed that the movie follows the standard romantic comedy pattern of Rino and Malin arguing, then getting to know each other, then Rino being hurt by Malin, then the two having a big fight, and finally him trying to cut his cock off with a Dremel rotary sander. Well… okay, maybe it’s not that standard.
One thing of particular note is the cinematography. Most of the composition in comedies is pretty straightforward, following the rule of thirds, but “Fatso” has some really nice duality themes playing out in the visuals. I kind of liked that. I helped bring out the more dramatic elements of the film without hampering the jokes too much.
In the end, this feels a lot like a Kevin Smith film without any dick jokes, and no this does not mean that “Fatso” is just ninety minutes of a blank screen, what I mean is that there’s a lot of heart and humanity here. Did I like the jokes? Well, either I don’t get them or my brain has been so completely fried with dick humour that I just can’t laugh at the subtle stuff anymore. You know what though? It doesn’t matter. While “Fatso” seems on the surface to be a comedy about a guy desperately wanting to get laid, it’s really a sweet film about a lonely guy trying to shed his shut-in ways. It’s very low key and even though I didn’t laugh out loud, I still understood the gentle humour and smiled a lot. Sometimes that’s enough.
Posted on July 17, 2010 in Reviews by Jeremy Knox
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