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Originally published Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 3:03 PM

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'Fat Kid Rules the World' — or at least Seattle

A movie review of "Fat Kid Rules the World," Matthew Lillard's directing debut. It's a standard coming-of-age picture with a stronger-than-usual emphasis on male bonding — and Seattle locations.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 2.5 stars

'Fat Kid Rules the World,' with Jacob Wysocki, Matt O'Leary, Billy Campbell. Directed by Matthew Lillard, from a screenplay by Michael M.B. Galvin and Peter Speakman, from a novel by K.L. Going. 98 minutes. Rated R for language, drug use, violent fantasies. SIFF Cinema at the Film Center.

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Of all the Northwest-based movies shown at this spring's Seattle International Film Festival, "Fat Kid Rules the World" may have been the most Seattle-conscious.

Although it's based on a 9-year-old novel that was set in New York, it begins with a Metro bus clearly marked "Seattle" that almost bumps off Troy (Jacob Wysocki), the overweight and suicidal title character.

He's rescued by a homeless wild boy, Marcus (Matt O'Leary), who uses Volunteer Park as a cruising/hustling spot. Harborview Medical Center provides a turning point in the plot.

The first-time director, Matthew Lillard — an actor best-known for his role in "The Descendants" — uses the locations well enough, but the result is still a standard coming-of-age picture. Its chief distinction: a stronger-than-usual emphasis on male bonding.

When Marcus saves Troy from near-death, their connection is sealed. They form a band and secure a booking at Neumos, but Troy's rich fantasy life can take them only so far.

"There is no band," he insists. "There is if you want one," says Marcus.

After Marcus redecorates Troy's sadly barren bedroom, Troy's ex-Marine father loses it. He's convinced that Marcus is a junkie.

Dad is played by Billy Campbell, who lends some welcome shadings to the role. Campbell makes you believe that this frustrated Dad might just buy a fancy drum set for his child in order to save him from permanent lunchroom status as an outsider. O'Leary turns Marcus into a credible mixture of sass and substance, but Wysocki, in the more passive role, doesn't always succeed in matching wits with him.

John Hartl:

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