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15 Famous Movie Fat Kids

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Fat Kid Rules the World

Matthew Lillard joins the ever-growing line of actors-turned-directors this weekend with Fat Kid Rules the World, an adaptation of KL Going’s young adult novel about a suicidal, 296-pound teen who finds salvation in rock music. Rising star Jacob Wysocki plays the beefy protagonist, bringing to life the kind of character who’s notoriously, historically sidelined. Cinema wasn’t always keen on putting plus-size players in front of the camera, but as the medium evolved, so did the exposure, and overweight characters, however often ridiculed, became the kind of scene-stealers viewers grow to love. It’s an archetype particularly common in kids movies, where the themes are as light-hearted as the bullies are nasty. See which cake-loving whippersnappers we corralled for this list, a celebration of the filmic fat kid.

The Goonies

Jeff Cohen in The Goonies (1985). He may not be the most efficient explorer, but it’s pretty tough to hate on Lawrence “Chunk” Cohen, the pudgy member of the titular gang in Richard Donner’s The Goonies. Chunk, after all, is the character who frees and befriends gentle giant Sloth (John Matuszak), thanks to a mutual affinity for the ecstasy of Baby Ruth bars. The pair of chocolate lovers are the ones who save their pals in a pinch, exemplifying the film’s underdog cheerleading.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Michael Bollner in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). The kids on this list may be ridiculed for their ample waistlines, but none are as punished for their appetites as Augustus Gloop (Michael Bollner), the German candy lover whose thirst for chocolate sends him tumbling into a river of the stuff, only to wind up lodged in a drainage pipe. One down, four to go in this moral-driven muscial, which caps off each spoiled brat’s exit with an Oompa Loompa jingle.

Donnie Darko

Jolene Purdy in Donnie Darko (2001). “Chut up!” Cherita Chen (Jolene Purdy) barks to her number-one crush, Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal), as he assures her that, one day, things will be better for her. And so it goes with most fat kids in movies: We all know that once they usher themselves past high school, the characters will find ways to better ease themselves into society. For Cherita, let’s hope she blossomed into her own Autumn Angel, keeping warm with a fancy pair of earmuffs.

A League of Thier Own

Justin Scheller in A League of Their Own (1992). “You’re gonna lose!” squeaks the monster that is Stillwell, a ballplayer’s son who has to go on the road with the rest of the Rockford Peaches, the spotlighted team in Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own. Running around like a maniac on the Peaches’ tour bus, Stillwell prompts “All the Way” May (Madonna) to to go after him with a bat, and things look ugly until Stillwell’s mommy (Bitty Schram) quiets her son with—what else?—a chocolate bar.

Mean Creek

Josh Peck in Mean Creek (2004). Soon to appear in the remake of Red Dawn, Josh Peck has whittled himself down to a lean machine, but in 2004’s Mean Creek, he was the fat kid among his friends—the bully, in fact, whom Kieran Culkin and company try to teach a lesson. Taking the meaty meanie on a canoe trip, the teens accidentally commit murder, kicking off a tense and morally murky series of events. This is the rare film in which the fat kid is both villain and victim.

Stand By Me

Jerry O’Connell in Stand By Me (1986). Jerry O’Connell left his baby fat behind him long ago, but he’s still probably most beloved for his turn as Vern Tessio in Stand by Me, Rob Reiner’s rite-of-passage dramedy about friends, corpses, and junkyard dogs. It’s the timid Vern who initiates the epic search for the body of Ray Brower, a local boy who recently disappeared, and whose discovery holds serious existential weight for the protagonists. Naturally, Vern’s confidence gets a major boost by film’s end, leading, we learn, to a marriage right out of high school.

Terri

Jacob Wysocki in Terri (2011). Wysocki may star in this weekend’s release, but he actually broke out in 2011’s Terri, a dramedy from Momma’s Man helmer Azazel Jacobs. Co-starring John C. Reilly, the movie follows the eponymous, overweight misfit as he begins wearing pajamas to school, feeding a depression that Reilly’s assistant principal tries to head off at the pass. Wysocki offers some affecting work, and the film digs deeper than your average high-school angst-fest.

Our Gang

Norman Chaney in The Our Gang comedies (1929 to 1931). Before Norman Chaney took the role, Joe Cobb played the character of Chubby, the rotund member of Our Gang, whose series of comedies gave us The Little Rascals. Chubby appeared in School’s Out, Teacher’s Pet, and Helping Grandma, among others, all when Chaney was roughly 12 years old. It may have been the role that killed the actor: he died at 21 from weight-related ailments.

South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut

Eric Cartman in South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut (1999). Since the small screen simply couldn’t hold all those Beefcake antics, Eric Cartman needed a path to the cinema, where his two-dimensional girth could be enjoyed in theatrical glory. In this feature adaptation of the Comedy Central hit, enhanced by Trey Parker and Matt Stone to include Saddam Hussein and Satan, Cartman gets implanted with a chip designed to punish him for profanity, and he’s also haunted by the ghost of his habitually dead friend Kenny. Bigger venue, bigger troubles.

National Lampoon’s European Vacation

Dana Hill in National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985). Dana Hill’s Audrey wasn’t exactly a porker in National Lampoon’s European Vacation, but the character lets her weight struggles torture her, to the extent of having vivid nightmares and pesky boyfriend problems (as if she didn’t have enough trouble with her disaster-prone father). Hill’s real story is in fact a tragic one. Type I diabetes stunted her growth (leading to the playing of characters well below her age), and she ultimately died at 32 from disease complications. Audrey is one of the few screen roles she left behind.

Heavyweights

Aaron Schwartz in Heavyweights (1995). Judd Apatow co-wrote this 1990s fat-camp comedy, which was flecked with such nudge-nudge bits as casting Ben Stiller as a villain named Tony Perkins. It also features a lead performance from young Aaron Schwartz, whose kind-hearted Gerry ultimately helps lead the charge against all the Camp Hope slave drivers. Schwartz didn’t exactly follow the film with a career surge—he now has a recurring role as a doorman on Gossip Girl.

King of Ping Pong

Jerry Johansson in King of Ping Pong (2008). Jens Jønsson’s painterly Nordic drama didn’t get a lot of play, but it delivered an emotionally mighty story about a pair of brothers, one of whom is the school’s walking abuse magnet. Rille (Jerry Johansson) has a whole lot of pounds on his younger sibling, a fact that creates tension for both boys in their snowbound community. Rille turns to ping pong to find a sense of worth, and his ascent coincides with some riveting family developments.

Bad Santa

Brett Kelly in Bad Santa (2003). It takes a certain kind of parent to allow her son to star opposite Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa, a film that sees the star hurl insults at Brett Kelly’s nameless, chubby tyke. Particularly fond of making sandwiches, The Kid emerges as Thornton’s character’s conscience, and, inevitably he helps facilitate a streak of redemption inside douchey St. Nick.

Lord of the Flies

Hugh Edwards in Lord of the Flies (1963). In Peter Brooks’s adaptation of William Golding’s classic, Hugh Edwards takes on the role of Piggy, the bespectacled brainiac among the story’s crash survivors, whose glasses become a pivotal element of the plot. Piggy’s eventual death is a development whose implications are two-fold, supporting the notion of survival of the fittest and exposing the true savagery of the teenage islanders.

Up

Russel in Up (2009). Jordan Nagai provides the voice for young and plucky Russell, the gentle scout who finds himself stranded on Carl Frederickson’s porch, and proceeds to embark on an adventure to fulfill his host’s dream. Befriending a dog named Dug and a prehistoric bird named Kevin, Russell gets the most of his daring vacation, eventually earning from Carl the respect he couldn’t find at home. The plump hero takes part in a last-act merit-badge ceremony that’s as triumphant as it is tear-jerking.

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