The Fat Boy Chronicles

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Fat Boy Chronicles Movie Poster Image
Earnest but flawed teen film about obesity and bullying.
  • NR
  • 2010
  • 78 minutes

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Kids say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Preaches acceptance of others, acceptance of oneself, and looking beyond appearances. Shows the devastating effects of bullying, name-calling, and mean-spirited behavior. In addition to the social downside of obesity, associated medical issues are described. The upside of failure ("It humbles us and makes us more compassionate"; "Giving up early is easy; getting back up is hard") is stressed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The arc of the film's protagonist is positive. Self-deprecating, hopeless, and almost friendless, he learns the value of actively taking steps to better his life. The behavior of kids, parents, and teachers covers a wide spectrum. The two primary parents are supportive, loving, and proactive when dealing with their obese son. Another boy's parent is cruel and self-destructive. The primary teacher is sensitive and resourceful and values her students highly. Other teachers are portrayed as mean, angry, and uncaring. There's some ethnic diversity.


Bullies push, hit, and physically intimidate the hero in numerous sequences. A parent slaps his son hard. 


Some smooching at a teen party. The hero lands a couple of sweet kisses on the girl of his dreams. Bullies continually make fun of the obese boy's chest ("boobs").


Mean-spirited name-calling: "ugly," "stupid," "knucklehead," "fatty." Frequent references to an overweight boy's "boobs." A girl is referred to as being sexy and having a "huge rack." An extensive scene of loud farts.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A teen talks about his alcoholic parents in multiple scenes; the boy's father is seen holding a beer can and being inebriated. A mom drinks wine in her kitchen. A boy smokes cigarettes and offers one to his friend, who declines.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Fat Boy Chronicles deals with some harsh truths about teen obesity and bullying. Other issues touched upon are teen "cutting," alcoholic parents, murder, suicide, and depression. The hero is a 14-year-old boy in his first year of high school, so the messages delivered will have meaning to many young teens. However, the execution is weak, and some issues raised are given very little time. As a result, important teen dilemmas end up getting sketchy and one-dimensional treatment. Actual violence (pushing, grabbing an overweight boy's chest, a hard slap) and language issues ("ugly," "stupid," "fatty," "boobs") are relatively mild, but extensive humiliation, cruelty, and heartbreak are the prominent elements that move the story. 

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byMrMapleBar May 13, 2016

Very good movie

I watched this about a year ago, and I've watched it a few times since then. It's a very good movie, with a positive message for kids going to HS

What's the story?

In THE FAT BOY CHRONICLES, already self-conscious and lonely 14-year-old Jimmy (Christian Rivera) starts high school in a new neighborhood. It's just what he expected -- some of the kids immediately start teasing him about his weight, especially his "man boobs." Constant bullying isn't far behind. Jimmy takes refuge at lunch in the school cafeteria, sitting by another fat kid and Sable, a girl whose goth appearance sets her apart, too. His loving parents and a kind doctor try to help him, but they can't. Things go from bad to worse; his only consolation is a growing attraction to Sable and the company of his best friend, Paul, who has remained at his old school. But those two have major issues as well. Tentatively, through a journal assignment and growing awareness that he's the only person who can alter his situation, Jimmy takes steps to change his life and his feelings about himself.

Is it any good?

What works in this film is Jimmy. As portrayed by the likable Christian Rivera, the character's dilemma is poignant. Young audiences can't help but empathize with him and, in doing so, take his situation to heart. Their compassion for the underdog and willingness to stand up for kids like Jimmy may be enhanced. However, not certain that the teen's story would stand on its own, or believing that the drama would be heightened by the inclusion of multiple other elements, the filmmakers added much more: teen cutting, parental alcoholism, an unsolved murder, a suicide, a boy's disappearance, and a football player's lack of confidence. All are underdeveloped concepts, relegated to a few scenes or portions of scenes and minimal, if any, resolution. The worst of these is a ludicrous subplot that finds Jimmy and his friend using Jimmy's sister as bait to catch the murderer. It's all scatter-shot, trivialized, badly conceived, and poorly executed. The writers and director could have used a surer hand and more professional help to bring this story, based on a book and "inspired by a true story," to life.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how bullying has become an important issue in our culture. What changes have you noticed either in bullying itself or in kids' response to bullying as a result of it being part of our nation's conversation? How has your own awareness changed?

  • In this film, most of the students witnessing Jimmy's humiliation laugh along with the bullies. How can the "witnesses" change the bullying landscape in schools?

  • Mrs. Pope's journal requirement ends up making a lot of sense to Jimmy. Try creating a journal for yourself for one week. Then see how you feel about writing down your thoughts, knowing no one else may ever read them. 

Movie details

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