Blu-ray Review: Fatso [Special Edition] | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, March 6th, 2021  

Fatso [Special Edition]

Studio: Shout! Factory

Jun 25, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

A Brooklyn boy, born and raised, 40-year-old Dom DiNapoli (Dom DeLuise) works in the family greeting card shop and shares his crowded childhood home with his older sister Antoinette (Anne Bancroft), her husband and kids, and his younger brother Frank (Ron Carey). When their obese cousin passes away suddenly at the age of 39, Dom’s concerned siblings turn their sights on him: if he doesn’t start caring better for himself and lose a little weight, they worry he’ll send himself to an early grave. Dom tries his best to comply, but it’s no easy task—food is more than just his first love, but an addiction inextricably linked to his low self-worth. But if he can’t do it for himself, perhaps he’ll be able to change his ways for someone else: namely, a pretty clerk (Candice Azzara) at the newly-opened antiques shop across the way.

Written and directed by Anne Bancroft in her only behind-the-camera feature, Fatso is a mostly sweet romantic comedy. The premise is treated with more seriousness than you’d expect from the title: Dom’s food addiction is regarded as an illness for which he actively seeks help. DeLuise gives a touching performance, comedic yet full of sad self-loathing. The family Bancroft builds around him provides comic foils, but they're also believable in their concern and love for Dom. The main complaint that contemporary critics lodged against the movie still holds, though, and it's that it’s tonally quite uneven. While a low-key comedy throughout, there are moments when the situations are heightened in ways that feel inappropriately broad. It works when, say, an unhinged Dom threatens his brother for keeping him out of the fridge (thanks to DeLuise’s performance) but not so much when Dom and his fellow diet club members destroy the family kitchen in a desperate search for food. For moments, the mostly understated Fatso feels the need to be much louder and dumber than it actually is.

Shout Select’s special edition brings the movie to Blu-ray with numerous extra features, the most notable being a retrospective look at the movie with producers Mel Brooks and Stuart Cornfeld. It sounds like neither was on set much, or just don’t have many stories from filming, but they do a nice job of showing their appreciation and explaining how the movie came about. Scholar Maya Montañez Smukler provides a lengthy video essay on the history of women filmmakers in Hollywood which eventually gets around to Bancroft’s place within it. Also included are a vintage press kit and image gallery. Fans of the movie will find plenty of bonus materials here to sink their teeth into.



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