Fat acceptance, and love your body, and skin your in, and all that stuff is really big (pardon the expression) right now. I really have no opinion one way or another. If you’re a good person, I care less how you look. Well back in the 80’s it was funny to make fun of fat people in movies and television. In fact the fat guy was always the dumb guy, or the butt of the joke. Most people out there know Dom DeLuise from various Burt Reynolds comedies where he often was the abused friend of Burt. I first saw him in The Muppet Movie as the producer who wanted Kermit to come to Hollywood. Did I mention that Dom was fat? Yes he was the funny fat guy and in 1980 he was the lead in the film Fatso directed and written by Anne Bancroft. I know your thinking this must be either incredibly funny, or terribly politically incorrect by todays standards, but its actually a sad and touching film.
DeLuise stars as Dominic. A fat guy who has a deep emotional bond to food. When he was a little boy his brother, who was a baby at the time peed on him while he was being changed. Dominic freaks out, but his mom tell shim its ok, he’s fine and shoves a cannoli in his mouth. He likes this. So every time he gets upset or sad, or mad his mom gives him food to comfort him. This in turn causes him to grow up to be a fat guy. His cousin Sal is super fat as well. So fat that when he grows up he dies from a heart attack due to being overweight. As Dominic is also in bad physical shape his sister talks him into seeing a doctor to put him on a diet. Naturally after eating bad his whole life he doesn’t last long and starts eating junk food again. Because of this his sister gets him into an overeaters group known as “The Chubby Checkers” There not exactly a great support group as one night after talking about all the food they love they binge eat everything in sight.
As Dominic is sort of trying to better himself he meets a young woman named Lydia who instantly falls for. Thanks to his sister he actually begins dating her and he cannot be happier. He spend his time doing things with her and starts to lose weight and in the process become healthier. However when he goes to propose to her one night and finds she is gone he begins to binge eat again causing his family react badly to say the least.
Is the film funny? Yes, in parts. Is it sad. Yes. There is a scene in the film where Dominic’s brother chains up his refrigerator so he can’t get into it. Well of course one night he snaps and tries to beat the thing open, he gets so crazed he starts going after his brother in a crazed violent manor. Its played so perfectly by Dom DeLuise that even though you laugh you will feel bad at the same time. Your watching a man have a breakdown due to his unhealthy obsession with food. He doesn’t play a clod or a funny guy, he plays a nice guy who is overweight. He deals with insecurity over it, he obsesses about it. He even has to deal with the fact that his family is ashamed of him. If you really pay attention his family (sister in particular) are almost trying to change him out of shame. They don’t care that he’s a nice guy, they hate that he’s fat. Sure they want him to be healthy but they cannot see past his weight. Its only at the end do they look in their own hearts and realize they have to love and accept him for who he is.
DeLuise is fantastic. I cannot stress this enough. In fact had they removed a few jokes this could have been played as a serious film, and if made today it probably would have been. I was always used to seeing him as the comedic foil in films in Fatso he shows that he could have been one of the great dramatic actors out there. The film suffers from a few pacing issues but that’s not the fault of DeLuise. He acts out such a range of emotions that you will be hooked from the start. Funny, sad, insecure, angry violent, he plays each part to absolute perfection. This was his film all the way. Everyone else, and I mean no disrespect to the other actors in this film but Dom is the man.
A fan favorite film its never really gotten a good home release until now. Shout Factory, under their Shout Select line have released this on Blu-ray and the print looks fantastic. Fully remastered the print in both terms of audio and picture are fantastic. It looks as if it was filmed yesterday. Everything is crisp and sounds great. Unfortunately the film only has a few special features, but a few are better than none
· NEW Looking Back On Fatso With Producers Stuart Cornfeld And Mel Brooks
· NEW Interview With Film Historian Maya Montañez Smukler
· Image Gallery
· Press Kit
Part comedy, part romance, part drama this really is a film that every one should watch. As I said watching it in todays climate makes it feel very different. Lots of people will tell you its historical, and maybe to some it is. I find it more so touching. Either way it’s a showcase for a tremendous actor and a film that everyone should love on some level. Pick this one up today.
Overall 4out of 5 Stars!