Directed by: Robert D. Siegel
Cast: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Corrigan, Michael Rapaport, Marcia Jean Kurtz
Running Time: 1 hr. 28 mins
Release Date: October 2, 2009
PLOT: Paul (Oswalt) is a die-hard football fan and his team is the New York Giants. He’s torn when he must deal with the consequences when he is beaten up by his favorite player.
WHO’S IT FOR? It’s a chance for sports obsessed fans to reexamine their life, but they probably won’t seek out this small film. If you like the term “character study” then this is for you.
Paul is a big fan. Obsessed with the G-men (New York Giants). The first scene is painful, with Paul’s written words being spit out on favorite radio show. This is his life. That and of course tailgating, but not having tickets to the game. He’s content, and Oswalt does a great job of breathing life into this sports geek.
Everything is fun and painful for us in the beginning with Paul dealing with his mother and a range of topics we all want to avoid (masturbation, underwear, girlfriends).
Fun and painful eventually gets rid of the fun and just remains painful. When Paul and Sal (Corrigan) spot their favorite Giant, they become mesmerized, even at the strip club. They’re obsessed with having a moment with Quantrell Bishop (Jonathan Hamm), the man they love every Sunday afternoon.
A drugged-up Bishop ends up beating Paul when he thinks his safety is threatened. It’s the first misstep in the film. They use slow motion and pull us out of an otherwise very realistic film.
Fans can think they play some sort of role in whether a team wins or loses … Favorite shirt, watching the game in the same place, or eating a pre-game meal, to obsessed fans this all matters. Paul’s decisions actually matter for his favorite franchise. His life as a parking garage attendant from Staten Island is enough, because he has the Giants. Now suddenly, this 35-year-old has to examine his life.
What we the viewer wants for Paul is completely different than what he wants. What would you do? Some would think about justice, others would think about money, but that’s not fandom. When Paul’s health is at risk, we want to scream at him, and some of you probably did. When Paul’s brother and mother give their opinions, it’s with mixed results because they aren’t the complete voice of reason either. That’s what gives Big Fan some great layers.
The twist at the end with Paul heading to Pennsylvania is the peak of being uncomfortable. With the face paint, he treads into The Joker territory. We’re stuck on the ledge, waiting to see if Paul will jump. Painful, but good.
The writer of The Wrestler, Robert Siegel, proves he can take over the director’s chair.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10