I first saw Jacob Wysocki in last year’s Terri, where he astounded me as an incredibly sad boy so starved for attention and understanding, who came to class dressed in his pajamas and clumsily fumbled his way through friendships with his fellow outcasts and his vice principal. As you can tell, I was really impressed with his debut performance… yet when I saw the trailer for his new movie Fat Kid Rules the World, I felt something akin to exhaustion. I worry about Jacob getting typecast as the quirky, overweight protagonist in various indie movies, evaluated by his size first. Or am I being way too oversensitive?
To be fair, Fat Kid Rules the World is less a sequel to Terri and more like Chris Colfer‘s debut movie Struck By Lightning. Whereas the latter starts with the outcast dying in a freak accident, the story starts here with Troy (Wysocki) almost getting hit by a bus. But Marcus (Matt O’Leary) saves him, sparking an unusual friendship between the bullying victim unsure of his place in the world and the confident guitarist with his own family problems. The two become immersed in the world of punk rock, and all around it looks like a feel-good movie.
Fat Kid Rules the World started as a Kickstarter campaign promoted by actor Matthew Lillard, who’s definitely shed his dumber roles to take on more thoughtful projects. On the Kickstarter page, Lillard wrote,
OK. So, I first stumbled across FAT KID RULES THE WORLD when I was hired to record the audio version of KL Going’s award winning novel. The book blew me away. It was funny and true, and it told the story of a lost kid – Troy Billings, alienated and alone – who finds his purpose in life through the magic of punk rock music. The book rocked my world. It was crazy! It spoke to me, in a deep way because I had been my own version of Troy Billings in high school. I was lost and an outcast and didn’t really fit in anywhere… that is until I found acting, which pretty much changed my life forever. After I read the book I knew I had to tell THIS story. I made this movie for everyone who has ever felt like they just didn’t belong… the misfits, the outcasts. the kids that are lost… this movie is for you!
This is his directorial debut, and they successfully raised $158,000. The movie got favorable reviews at SXSW, so they have nowhere to go but up. Maybe I really am being oversensitive in worrying that Wysocki will be typecast, and instead I should see it as Wysocki proving yet again — as he did in Terri and on the short-lived ABC Family series Huge – that these are stories that need to be told, and protagonists that other overweight kids need to see.
Photo: Whippany Park Productions