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.
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.