The world needs more movies like Fatso. Like a grown-up Angus, this flick tells the story of an overweight, sweet man facing the ultimate intimate struggle: finding someone that will agree to have sex with him. Luckily, the film itself isn’t occupied all that seriously with that goal, but treats sex and companionship with a mature (mixed with just enough muffled snickering) mind and a fantastic ear for comedy.
Rino (Nils Jorgen Kaalstad) is a pervert. He has an overactive imagination, his best friend is a loud mouth jerk who looks like a pedophile, and he’s recently upgraded from a melon to a Fleshlight. In some regards, he’s vile and filthy, but with the finger being pointed sensually at Rino, three more are pointed back at the giant group of perverts watching him and his exploits on screen. His world changes (as they often do) when an incredibly cute young Swedish girl named Malin (Josefin Ljungman) moves in with him and introduces him to a world of partying and the joys/horrors of social interaction.
It’s rare that comedies from other countries resonate – it’s something about the language barrier or the exchange rate – but Fatso transcends those boundaries in an effort to explore the common human fear of loneliness and how absurdly funny it can be. The movie is a blend of the sweaty real world of a fat figure who does nobody any harm and the illustrated world of his fantasy (as well as the hyper real world of that naked girl-infested fantasy). He lives alone, works from home, and still can’t work up the stones to do more than nervously giggle at the attractive check out girl at the grocery store.
At heart, he’s a nice guy, and Nils Jorgen Kaalstad embodies that to perfection. When he feels threatened, he lashes out the way a frightened rabbit would if it had a degree in computer science. The comedy, of course, comes from the awkward interactions and the forwardness of Malin – a character who is just as lonely despite being funny and cute and happy on the outside.
Before you start worrying about a schmaltzy lesson about how physical attractiveness won’t offer happiness, the movie never doles one out. All it offers is a continual stream of comedy that works whether it’s the strange mannerisms of Rino or the over-the-top sexual dilemmas that could give American Pie a run down the Naked Mile for its money.
The acting is all solid – including Josefin Ljungman, who instantly earns a spot in the mercurial psycho ward/hall of fame for Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Her character is mostly harmless, but she’s dynamite in the hands of a young man who can’t help but fall in love with her while she likes him because he’s a great listener and will cuddle with her without trying to put anything inside her.
Add to the leads a side character in Filip (Kyrre Hellum) who cuts through everything as if Napoleon Dynamite’s uncle was played by Steve Buscemi after he glued a giant mound of red pubic hair to his head in order to audition to play The Joker. He’s walking id, an incredible liar, and almost always hilarious in that frustrating way that leaves you wanting to call the asshole in your friend group and thank him or her before saying you never want to see him or her again.
Simply put, everyone involved here is on point, creating a comedy with a realistic story that naturally picks up a lot of heart along the way. Rino is incredibly sympathetic, and more than wanting him to finally get laid, you want to see him find happiness. As anyone who has crawled from insecurity to confidence knows, it’s a difficult and bumpy road that’s usually filled with naked women dancing in slow motion and talking rubber vagina lips shoved into a flashlight.