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by Michael  Cox
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jun 25, 2019

For those who have never heard of the film, "Fatso" offers one enormous draw: Anne Bancroft.

Most of us are familiar with her as one of the few actors to win a Tony, an Emmy and an Academy Award, as well as appear in some of the most iconic films of post-studio Hollywood — "The Miracle Worker," "The Graduate," and "Agnes of God." But few of us know her as one of only about 16 women who were able to work as a director in the 1970s and early 80s. Not only did she direct this larger-than-life dramedy, but she wrote and stars in it as well.

"The fat people are good people," Antoinette DiNapoli (Bancroft) says to her brother Dominic (Dom DeLuise), "It's too bad they die young." She has just been screaming at the corpse of her cousin Sal, who ate himself into an early grave.

Hell bent on not letting Dom suffer the same curse, she sends him to a nutritionist. And when this fails, she convinces him to join a support group, the "Chubby Checkers." Still, one gluttonous binge after another leaves her big-boned brother decimated. But just when his problem seems insurmountable, an attractive neighbor (Candice Azzara) come along to satisfy his craving in another way and give him the will to change.

This film not only addresses pertinent issues in a surprisingly profound way, like addiction, fat shaming, overeating and health, it also boasts an array of perfectly timed side-gags that are rarely seen in modern film.

DeLuise delivers a performance as pitch perfect over-the-top as you would expect from this "Hollywood Squares" perennial, but he also hits some subtle notes. And a small cameo from Estelle Reiner nearly steals the film.

Reiner is best known for being Carl's wife and Rob's mother, but she's also the woman who delivered one of the most famous deadpan lines in film history, "I'll have what she's having," from "When Harry Met Sally" (also available through Shout Factory). And the female creative energy continues with Brianne Murphy, one of the few women cinematographers able to work her way into the Hollywood boy's club.

This Blu-ray offers some intriguing bonus material as well, like a featurette with Bancroft's husband Mel Brooks and the producer Stuart Cornfeld, a press kit and an interview with the film historian Maya Montanez. This interview is particularly interesting, as Montanez analyses this film, and the cinematic period it came from, from a feminist point of view.

Blu-ray $19.97

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