"Big Fan" DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review (2010)

1/14/2010 Posted by Admin

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

"Big Fan"

Directed by Robert D. Siegel, written by Siegel, 93 minutes, Rated R.

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

Let's face it, folks--baseball is no longer the nation's number one passtime. It's football. It's in the country's psyche from the day the season starts to when it ends, and even in between for a lot of people. It's ingrained in our society's DNA, whether you like it or not. And for some people, it's not just a passtime. It's life.

Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt) is one such person. He doesn't have anything worth much in his life. He lives with his mother, has a dull job working in a parking garage, and while his older brother and sister have families, he has none and no intention of getting one anytime soon.

Instead, he lives for the New York Giants. When he's at work, he's listening to sports radio, jotting down notes for his weekly call-in, endlessly praising the team and head quarterback Quantrell Bishop. He and his friend Sal (Kevin Corrigan) watch every away game and then attend every home game (sort of--they sit in the stadium parking lot alone and watch the game on TV). He will do anything for his team.

This undying faith is put to the test when Paul follows Bishop to a club and is assaulted by the intimiding QB when he reveals he followed him there. The police and Paul's family want him to have Bishop put in prison--Paul will have none of it. His entire world begins to crumble around him.

This isn't writer and director Robert D. Siegel's first foray into this sort of subject. He wrote 2008's "The Wrestler," another film about a life defined by a sport. He originally intended "Big Fan" to be a comedy, but found the subject too dramatic to do so. The little uneasy attempts at comedy are a definite indication of this.

Patton Oswalt is probably best known for his stand-up comedy and supporting role on "The King of Queens." This is his first attempt at drama, and he really rises to the occasion. He is delusional, unhinged and effective. Truthfully, despite the intriguing premise, Oswalt's performance is the only thing that completely works. Where he is fearless and almost terrifying, the film borders on dull and awkward for a lot of its running time.

I think a lot of this has to do with Siegel's inexperience as a director. This is his debut, and it shows in a lot of the inconsistencies in tone, and even moreso in the scenes intended to be far more dramatic but due to some sloppy or overbearing direction come off as goofy or over-the-top.

The whole subject of sports being an entire piece of a society's consciousness is definitely one worth exploring--we've seen it attempted before with stuff like Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday" and the film and television show "Friday Night Lights"--but few artistic endeavors are ever able to take an entirely objective stance on sports. You can't sentimentalize sports when you're trying to condemn an obsession with them--it would be like showing a drug addict enjoying heroin for two hours then saying "heroin is bad" in the last five minutes. That isn't quite the case with "Big Fan," but it takes few steps forward on the subject, and it's a shame that it isn't better, because Oswalt turns out to be a nearly perfect actor for it.

Overall, "Big Fan" is a major indicator of Patton Oswalt's talent beyond comedy, but despite several good moments and a generally interesting story, the film isn't anything special.

Grade: C-

View the trailer for "Big Fan" below.  What are you thoughts?

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