Fat Kid Rules the World 2

Adapted from the novel by K.L. Going, Matthew Lillard’s directorial debut Fat Kid Rules the World aims to provide a more realistic look at the complexities of youth. It conveys the universal theme of finding one’s own path, while subtly avoiding several of the conventions commonly found in teen-centric coming-of-age tales. The film tells the story of 17 year-old overweight outcast Troy Billings (Jacob Wysocki). He spends most of his time playing online games in his room when not battling suicidal thoughts. In Troy’s eyes there is not much in life really worth living for.

Frankly life has not been the same since Troy’s mother passed. Convinced it is time to end it all, Troy’s suicide attempt is inadvertently foiled by a local high school dropout Marcus (Matt O’Leary). The unlikely pair soon strike up a friendship that results in Marcus inviting Troy, who has never played an instrument, to be the drummer in a punk band he is forming. As their bond grows stronger, both Troy and Marcus are forced to confront the issues in each of their lives that they can no longer runaway from.

Lillard trusts his audience enough to not divulge every single detail. He leaves the possibility of a love connection between Troy and Isobel (Lili Simmons) ambiguous. Similar to his approach to storytelling, Matthew Lillard allows his actors to breathe and flourish in a natural way. Jacob Wysocki is fantastic in the role of Troy. He nicely balances both the insecurities and growing confidence that Troy struggles with over the course of the film. Billy Campbell provides one of his best performances in years in the role of Troy’s ex-navy father. He struggles to find common ground with his son while never losing site of his responsibilities as a parent.

Though an enjoyable indie film, Fat Kid Rules the World is not without its flaws. The most notable being the handling of Marcus’ drug addiction in the latter half of the film. Also, the character of Isobel could have been explored in greater detail as well. Still, despite these minor missteps Fat Kid Rules the World is a promising directorial debut from Lillard. The timeless themes mixed with strong performances make it appeal to the outsider that has resided in us all at one point or another in our youth.

Fat Kid Rules the World is currently streaming on Netflix in both Canada and the USA


  1. Glad you took time to highlight this movie, as I saw it a couple years ago and was pleasantly surprised. Not just because the movie was any bit of good, but because it also came from Matthew Lillard of all people. But hey, the guy’s clearly got talent, so I’d like to see more of him, both in front of and behind the camera. Good review.

    1. I think a lot of people unfairly but Matthew Lillard in a box because of his comedic roles. He definitely is a talented individual who I hope will get behind the camera again sometime soon.

  2. I don’t quite remember why I didn’t care for this movie, but I didn’t finish it after I started on Netflix. Others seem to really like it – don’t know why I couldn’t get into it.

  3. Thanks for highlighting this, Jacob Wysocki is a promising talent between his slowly unfolding charm here, and the heartbreaking weight he gave to Terri. That bit of illusion they let Marcus have at the end made me feel so warm and hopeful.

    1. I was not a big fan of Terri but I loved Wysocki’s work in it. There was something missing from that film that I still cannot put my finger on. I think I might need to revisit it again at some point in the near future.

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