by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5 stars)
Dom DeLuise as DOMINICK DINAPOLLI
Anne Bancroft as ANTOINETTE
Ron Carey as FRANKIE
Michael Lombard as CHARLIE
Sal Viscuso as VITO
Studio: Anchor Bay Releasing/20th Century Fox
Directed by: Anne Bancroft
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I remember when “Fatso” came out in the movie theaters. I was too young to see it (only 9 years old), but my aunt saw it. Coming from a family of fat people, my aunt loved it. She told me about the film and how it portrayed a big man trying to lose weight in order to be more healthy.
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Years later, I saw it on television, and I instantly identified with it. Now, it’s been re-released on DVD, and I’ve had a chance to revisit the story.
“Fatso” tells the story of Dominick DiNapoli (Dom DeLuise), a New Yorker who has found comfort in food all his life. His cousin Sal, who was even larger than he was, has just died of a heart attack at the age of 39. Dominick’s family sees this as a wake-up call and encourage him to lose weight. Through the rest of the film, we see Dominick’s struggles to curb his appetite and keep his eating under control.
“Fatso” is not a particularly well made film. The cinematography is rather stilted, and the writing is a bit rough. However, it’s understandable that this is the directorial and writing debut of screen legend Anne Bancroft. That’s not a slam on Bancroft, but considering she never wrote or directed anything else, its a testament that these two jobs are not always easy to do.
However, even through the rough spots, “Fatso” has a lot of charm. It also has a lot to connect to for anyone who has fought against obesity all their life. In fact, there are moments that even today bring a tear to the eye.
The outlying story follows Dominick as he falls in love with the girl from the gift shop down the road. It’s an overly simplified love story for the two of them, but that’s not the focus. Instead, the focus is for us fatsoes watching the film to see the pain of Dominick’s struggles.
As a Dom DeLuise vehicle, anyone watching expects some comedy. And the film delivers, in key memorable scenes that have become legends themselves in cinema history. One of the funniest moments is when Dominick calls his sponsors from the overeating support group called Chubby Checkers. They come over to help him through the night and end up ripping the kitchen apart and literally eating everything in sight.
The cast is excellent, featuring many of the staple actors from Bancroft’s hubby’s films, Mel Brooks veteran Ron Carey being the most noticeable. There is a distinctive Brooks flavor to the piece, and I do wonder if the late great Bancroft got some writing advice at home for the screenplay.
While the DVD comes with no special features, and the movie definitely has its rough spots, it is still a special gem of cinema history. Fatsoes unite and check this film out. It will help you remember that you’re not alone in your fight.
Specifications: Digital Mono Sound. Widescreen (1.85:1), enhanced for 16x9 televisions.