So Simon Pegg, eh? The new Tom Hanks by all accounts and here he is again single-handedly saving the British film industry with a "run-com" ... and it’s not a bad job at all. Sure it’s not as consistently funny as one would have hoped, although on paper it could have been a real stinker, and yet it does have a subtle charm all of its own.
Dennis (Pegg) is a lowly security guard with serious commitment issues whose life seems to have been one big failure after another. Following a particularly traumatic episode where he left his pregnant fiancée Libby (Newton) on their wedding day, he finds himself staring mid-life square in the face — and its not a pretty sight. When macho newcomer Whit (Azaria) vies for Libby’s affections and threatens to change the relationship he has with his son, he has to take drastic measures. He decides to compete against the athletic Whit in a marathon and win back the girl.
Much of the humour relies on Pegg playing the put-upon everyman who struggles to make it past mediocrity. Aided by equally pathetic characters, Dennis starts training for the marathon and so the fun begins. The always funny Nick Frost is absent and appears to have been replaced by Dylan Moran AND Harish Patel as the comedy foil for some well placed pratfalls and one-liners. Moran in particular does a great job, his lazy cool oozes on screen like a freshly popped blister.
If you were hoping for a Friends-style laughathon, with Schwimmer aka Ross Gellar directing, then look away now. You never get to know any of the characters well enough to be rolling in the aisles, and the pacing is not ever that rapid. Schwimmer does seem to have grasped the British sense of humour quite well however and he lets the off the cuff and semi-improvised feel play out instead of relying on heavily edited set pieces and scenarios.
Note to all involved: for future projects, a little more screen time for the truly stunning India de Beaufort would not be a bad idea...