Big Fan Review
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Since moving to a Big Ten City almost five years ago, I’ve been surrounded by obsessive sports fans—the kind of people who decorate their houses and paint their cars in team colors, who teach their children to hate anyone who cheers for a rival team, who plan their lives around game day. (I, meanwhile, go grocery shopping on game day—because I never have to wait in line to check out.)

In Big Fan, Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt) is one of those obsessive fans. His life revolves around the New York Giants. He hasn’t had a girlfriend in years, and he lives with his mom—but all that really matters is whether the Giants will make it all the way this year.

When Paul and best friend (and fellow Giants fan), Sal (Kevin Corrigan), spot the Giants’ superstar quarterback, Quantrell Bishop (Jonathan Hamm), at a gas station one night, they follow him like two giddy teenage girls following a cute boy through the mall. But Quantrell doesn’t really appreciate their fervor, and he ends up giving Paul a severe beating that lands him in the hospital.

After the incident, Quantrell is suspended, and the team starts falling apart. Paul’s sleazy lawyer brother is itching for a lawsuit, and a detective keeps pushing Paul for information. But Paul keeps pushing them all away—because the last thing he wants is to be the guy responsible for bringing down the Giants.

Though it sounds like it would make a fun outrageous comedy (especially with lovably hilarious comedian Patton Oswalt in the lead role), Big Fan is a surprisingly difficult movie to categorize. At times, it’s quite dramatic—and, for the most part, the humor is subtle and rather dark. Though there are some laughs, they’re usually not of the laugh-out-loud variety. And the awkward dialogue and heavy style turn a promising comedy into more of a tragedy.

Still, the scenario is a fascinating one—and it poses an interesting question for sports fans (and the people who love them). It doesn’t matter if you’re a diehard sports fan or you don’t know a “ref” from an “ump.” You’ll feel sorry for poor, pathetic Paul. After all, he’s facing a pretty difficult dilemma.

Unfortunately, though, unlike Mickey Rourke’s Randy “The Ram” Robinson in The Wrestler (which was written by Big Fan writer/director Robert D. Siegel), Paul doesn’t have the kind of world-weary charm that would truly make you care about him. Throughout the movie, you’ll just want to grab him by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. And the more the film drags on—drawing a 45-minute story into a 90-minute movie—the more frustrating he becomes.

Big Fan has neither the emotional depth of a powerful drama nor the outrageous laughs of an enjoyable comedy. And that makes it a tough call—even for sports fans. It’s an intriguing film—but not so intriguing that it’s worth skipping the big game to go out and see it.

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