Review of Fat Boy Chronicles on DVD

I hesitate to consider this film “family-friendly” only because the subject matter is anything but “friendly.” The Fat Boy Chronicles tell a story about the life of a high school freshman who is, for the purpose of the movie, considered “fat.” (To be honest, my family didn't think this boy was very heavy for all the ridicule he got; maybe it's the state of our culture, but there were many kids in schools these days who are just as heavy, if not much heavier.) This boy was kind, had nice eyes, and was attractive in all ways except one – his weight. Kids were horribly mean to him in school, pulling pranks that were difficult for my husband and I to watch – even my daughter teared up when viewing, as the boy reminded her of her brothers.

As the story goes on, the boy resolves to do something about his weight; yes, there is a girl involved that helps to spur him on, but he genuinely just doesn't want anyone picking on him anymore. (Also, he has a visit with his doctor, who tells him the weight loss is necessary for health reasons.)

This movie ends up being a fairy tale for the younger generations: he loses weight (although he is never “buff” or “skinny”, gets the girl, and even befriends the Senior jock who teases him in the beginning of the film.) Despite the happy ending, however, this film is full of pain; the main character's best friend struggles throughout the film with an abusive father and eventually loses a limb as the result of an accident.

If I could have changed anything about the message in the film, it would be this: I would love to see the parents actually involved in the life of this kid. Sure, the dad runs alongside the main character to help him lose weight, and the mom asks the obligatory “how was school today?”, but when it came to the older sister picking on him in front of the parents, nothing was done. How can we expect our kids to behave in school and away from our presence if they aren't even expected to be humane at home?

As a homeschooler, this film is very difficult to enjoy. I do love the message, and I understand that it is now being used in anti-bullying programs across the U.S. I am only able to watch it knowing that my own kids aren't being subjected to the kind of brutality that is rampant in schools; I do, however, worry for those who don't have homeschooling as an option.

This film is a coming-of-age piece that would be good for all kids ages 12 and up to watch WITH PARENTS. It isn't light, however, so be sure to leave time after the film to discuss what you've seen. The movie can be purchased at Amazon or streamed instantly for under $4.