Ever since he was a baby, Dominick DiNapoli (Dom DeLuise) had been taught that food was the way to make everything better, so it’s no surprise that he developed a habit of compulsive over-eating. Dominick never really thought about his eating habits, that is until his best friend/cousin Sal died at the young age of 39. Sal had a similar obsessive love of food—Dominick could always rely on Sal to have a chocolate bar, or some other emergency food, stuffed in his pocket.
Dominick lives with his younger brother Frankie (Ron Carey), and works at the family-owned card shop with his older sister Antoinette (Anne Bancroft). After Sal’s death, Antoinette expresses her concern for Dominick’s unhealthy lifestyle, and makes him an appointment to see a diet doctor. Dr. Schwartzman (Arnold Soboloff) gives Dominick an extremely strict new diet that doesn’t include pasta, bread, or any of the other numerous comfort foods that Dominick loves so much. Dominick tries to follow these new guidelines but quickly fails, often sneaking foods he shouldn’t, and even shamefully eating an entire order of Chinese food on the way home from the restaurant, before he makes it back to his guests.
Dominick is about to give up on his diet when Lydia (Candice Azzara) walks into his store. Lydia is the proprietor of the antique/gift shop next door, and Dominick is smitten with her the moment he locks eyes on her. She makes him want to try harder to live a healthier life. So Dominick joins a diet support group called Chubby Checkers, where he is paired up with a “checker” to help him get through the rough times. However, Dominick’s fellow support group members are struggling to keep to their diets just as much as he is, and when one of them falls off the wagon, they all quickly follow, and things comically escalate.
Can Dominick turn his life around, stick to his diet, and get the girl, or is he doomed to follow in Cousin Sal’s large footsteps?
I remember first seeing Fatso decades ago, watching it on one of the cable movie channels back in the 80s. At the time I didn’t really find the movie all that funny for something billed as a comedy. So when I received this Blu-ray for review, I decided to give the film another chance—to see if I just had been too young at the time to get it. However, this time around, that feeling didn’t really change. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad film, just not my kind of humor. While the film has some fun moments, there wasn’t really anything that had me laughing out loud. The highlight for me was a particularly enjoyable moment when all hell breaks loose as Dominick and his support group “checkers” have gotten so desperate for food and all of the cabinets have been chained closed, so they resort to threatening Dominick’s brother/roommate Frankie with a kitchen knife and other make-shift weapons in order to get him to allow them to get their binge on.
The performances are quite good, but the film felt like more of a dramedy to me. In the bonus material, one of the interview participants refers to the movie as a romantic comedy, but I didn’t get that vibe at all. There is this romantic aspect with Dominick and Lydia, but it didn’t feel like the focus of the movie, and film doesn’t have a lot of the classic romantic comedy will they/won’t they tropes. The film has a lot of slapstick physical humor, but I often felt more sad for Dominick than wanting to laugh at his condition/antics. That said, I may be biased as I have never really been a huge (no pun intended) fan of Dom DeLuise.
Shout! Factory has released Fatso as the 83rd title in its Shout Select line of Blu-rays. The picture quality is about what we’ve come to expect from these older releases that are just making their way onto Blu-ray for the first time. While the picture does have a lot of film grain to it, it looks quite pleasant overall. I only found the excessive grain to be slightly distracting in a couple scenes, such as the opening sequence. The disc’s mono soundtrack doesn’t give the immersive experience you would get in a more modern film, but it is more than sufficient for the film’s dialogue. Fans of the film are sure to be pleased with this presentation.
The Blu-ray is packed in a standard HD keepcase without a slipcover. The disc includes a small assortment of bonus material. New to this release are a 12-minute retrospective interview with producers Stuart Cornfeld and Mel Brooks, and a 26-minute interview with with film historian Maya Montañez Smukler, who discusses the history of female directors and in particular Anne Bancroft’s work on Fatso . The disc also includes an image gallery and a digital version of the film’s original press kit.
- 1080p / Widescreen 1.85:1
- Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
- Subtitles: English
- Looking Back On Fatso with Producers Stuart Cornfeld and Mel Brooks (12:20)
Brand new retrospective featurette with the film’s producers. Mel Brooks (who was also the husband of the late director) and Stuart Cornfeld talk about how the film first came about, how they got on board, working with Anne Bancroft, the cast, the composer, and hiring a female DP.
- Interview with Film Historian Maya Montañez Smukler (26:14)
In this brand new interview, film historian Maya Montañez Smukler spends about half of the time discussing the history of female film directors, before specifically talking about director Anne Bancroft and the genre and themes of Fatso.
- Image Gallery (2:01)
Slideshow of production photos auto-advances every 5 seconds.
- Press Kit (2:45)
Slideshow of the pages of the film’s original press kit auto-advances every 5 seconds. The photos go by too quickly to read, but you can easily pause on each one.
While I have never really been a fan of Fatso or have found Dom DeLuise to be all that funny, I can understand why other folks may enjoy this movie and its unique style of humor. Fatso was the only film that was written/directed by the late Anne Bancroft, and Dom Deluise delivers a performance that his fans should enjoy. Shout has cleaned up the picture and audio, making it look and sound better than ever for fans of the film. The disc also includes a small assortment of bonus features. While I wouldn’t recommend a blind buy for new viewers, fans of the films should appreciate the film’s first Blu-ray release.