Fat Kid Rules the World vs. Terri | Double take
Two vehicles for Jacob Wysocki illustrate a divide in indie cinema.
It’s been said the indie world is divided between movies that are essentially wanna-be Hollywood productions and films that genuinely offer a more offbeat alternative. Because they have the same star and basic premise—overweight outcast experiences a personal epiphany during a brief period of social acceptance—two recent movies illustrate that gulf.
Matthew Lillard’s Fat Kid Rules the World, an adaptation of K.L. Going’s YA novel, premiered at South by Southwest and comes to VOD this week. Sensibility-wise, it’s not far removed from the more mainstream Perks of Being a Wallflower. Heavyset Troy (Jacob Wysocki) strikes up a friendship with junkie Marcus (Matt O’Leary) after the latter stops him from throwing himself in front of a bus. Marcus, seeing his new pal as a means to get money and shelter, insists the two of them start a band; although this plan seems half-serious at best, Troy finds that learning how to pound the drums gains him a measure of popularity, including the attention of his longtime crush (Lili Simmons).
This perhaps doesn’t seem as far-fetched as many developments in Azazel Jacobs’s Sundance ’11–premiered Terri, in which Wysocki’s title character befriends a principal (John C. Reilly) who may have a few screws loose himself. But in some ways, Terri rings truer: The movie culminates with an almost 20-minute scene in which the protagonist, the girl he loves (Olivia Crocicchia) and their friend (Bridger Zadina) imbibe and share secrets. Their takeaways are anticlimactic and ambiguous, yet very real. The low-key climax is the polar opposite of the caper that closes Fat Kid, but despite that, both endings are satisfying. Fantasy suits Fat Kid, which is fundamentally a Cinderella story; by contrast, Jacobs’s douse of cold water prevents Terri from succumbing to its quirks. It turns out there’s more than one way for a fat kid to rule the world. (Fat Kid Rules the World is available on VOD; Terri is on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes and VUDU.)