It took Richard Linklater two hours and 46 minutes to tell the (slightly fictionalized) story of his own, tumultuous, peripatetic youth in 2014’s Boyhood. Filmmaker Malcolm Rizzuto accomplishes the same thing in just seven and a half minutes with Fat Pants, and Rizzuto’s version comes complete with trippy animation and unwitting guest appearances by Seth Rogen, Harold Ramis, and Canadian singer Mac DeMarco. An opening disclaimer reading “some of this happened” suggests that the cartoon is a mixture of autobiography and invention. Either way, it is extraordinarily revealing about its creator. “I was conceived in the science-fiction section of a Blockbuster video store,” claims Rizzuto, narrating the story of his own life. The boy’s childhood only got stranger from there. Mom worked at Planned Parenthood, where she regularly emceed games of “Sexual Activity Jeopardy.” Dad was essentially a drifter until fatherhood convinced him to put down roots in one place.
And what of their only son? Rizzuto describes his younger self as a “hot and bothered, barrel of monkeys of a bastard.” His youth was dominated by discipline problems, learning disabilities, substance abuse/experimentation, fights with classmates, and exposure to age-inappropriate entertainment like South Park. The child’s myriad difficulties seem to have driven a wedge in the parents’ marriage. Perhaps to help viewers better visualize the family’s uniquely dysfunctional dynamic, Rizzuto depicts his own father and his philandering, overweight grandfather (whose wardrobe provides the titular pants) as looking like, respectively, Rogen and Ramis from Knocked Up. Rizzuto also chooses to discuss his grandfather in halting, stilted Spanish. It all makes sense in context, sort of. The real theme of the film is one person’s relentless desire to create art and document his own life. Making autobiographical movies seems to bring Rizzuto nothing but additional problems, and yet he keeps doing it anyway. That’s about as pure as art gets.