June 3, 2010


Big Fan is a film about sports fanatics that take fanaticism to a whole other level. We all know plenty of sports fans in our families or inner circles that take themselves and "their teams" way too seriously whether they admit it or not. I'm probably even more guilty than I'd like to believe in this area, though I can thankfully say I am no Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt). Paul is the type of die hard sports fan that wives fear their husbands will become and that some of those same husbands wish they could be but just don't have the courage, commitment, and lack of brainpower and judgement it takes to go all the way. He lives and breathes his favorite NFL team, the New York Giants. Everything else in life takes a backseat and can only come secondary. It quickly becomes clear that he cares about his team more than the team's well paid professional players ever possibly could.
All that Paul lacks in maturity and ambition in life he more than makes up for in enthusiasm for his team. This imbalanced character works as a parking lot attendant with enough downtime on the job for him to write lines of dialogue to recite for his "15 minutes of fame" as "Paul from Staten Island" on his favorite national late night call-in sports radio station. For better or worse, this is his life and he seems to be completely content with it. The problem is that #1 fan lives in a tiny bedroom plastered with NY Giants paraphernalia in his poor mother's house. She, on the other hand, would much rather see him married to a woman which is in direct conflict with her son's current marriage to his sports team. You can't help but feel for his mother and other family members as they understandably feel like he is wasting his life and do their best to try and fix him.
In an ironic twist of fate, Paul follows his favorite star player Quantrell Bishop to a "gentlemen's club" were a simple misunderstanding turns into the beating of a lifetime for Paul. The film takes an interesting turn as Paul is released from the hospital and is put to the ultimate test as a fan. With more loyalty than sense, he is pulled from all angles and forced to make the decision to either protect himself or protect his team.
Comedian Patton Oswalt is so convincing and enjoyable in this role that you would swear he was basing his performance off of personal experience. The film suffers from an underdeveloped supporting cast, but ultimately succeeds as a well crafted darker comedy showing, to the extreme, the darker side of sports. Written and directed by Robert D. Siegel, ("The Wrestler"), Big Fan manages to avoid the temptation of taking itself too seriously, yet it doesn't allow its centerpiece to be a punch-line either.
You could really go either way on this. There is enough here to make it worth your $1, but there are other movies more worth your time. C+

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