It’s often difficult for couples to find a date movie that will entertain both of them, but if Friends’ goofy dinosaur guy David Schwimmer teams up with the witty genre-savvy Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead, the resulting romantic comedy is a promising remedy to the problem.
Dennis (Pegg) has made a lot of stupid mistakes in his life but the one he regrets most is leaving Libby (Thandie Newton), his pregnant fiancée, at the altar five years ago. He now does security at an upscale women’s clothing store, lives in the basement of an Indian widower (Harish Patel), and shares the parenting duties for his son, Jake (Matthew Fenton). Dennis is waiting for the day Libby will forgive him and take him back, assuming it would just eventually happen. But his dream is crushed when Libby introduces Dennis to her new beau, Whit (Hank Azaria). Whit is everything Dennis is not: charming, handsome, successful and he is running the London marathon for charity. In Libby’s words, Dennis “can't even finish a sentence.” Convinced finishing the marathon will prove his worth and win back Libby, Dennis enlists the help of his best friend Gordon (Dylan Moran) to train for the 26 mile run. "I'm not fat," Dennis insists, "I'm unfit."
Though Pegg did co-write the script, don’t expect any genre-bending self-aware jabs at the rom-com; it follows the typical formula of pining rewarded as well as the Rocky recipe of training-disappointment-triumph. Instead, Pegg indulges in some physical and gross-out comedy, all the while winning audiences’ hearts as the underdog. To support his cause, it becomes obvious Whit’s nice guy act is masking a callous personality. The cast is wonderful and deliver numerous memorable and quotable lines without missing a beat.
Schwimmer’s feature debut in the director’s chair proves his extended stint on the friendly sitcom nurtured a good sensibility of funny and romantic. Conversely, it may be hampering his ability to think outside the box and bring new life to the genre. That said, you never find yourself rolling your eyes at the screen and the product is a fully enjoyable rom-com.
The special features include more than a dozen deleted scenes, several of which are very funny but would have altered the tone and pace of the film; outtakes that are disappointingly not as funny as the film; and pre-interview footage of Pegg being pranked by an unexpectedly mischievous Newton. The feature commentary is like listening in on a friendly roundtable conversation with Schwimmer, Pegg, and Newton.