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Big Fan
IMDB Rating: 6.7/10 from 7,753 votes
Release: 18 January 2009 (USA) /

Big Fan

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
Director: Robert D. Siegel,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Paul Aufiero, a hardcore New York Giants football fan, struggles to deal with the consequences when he is beaten up by his favorite player. Written by Big Fan Productions, Inc.

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Critic Reviews

In his directorial debut, Robert Siegel shows that his true talent still lies in his writing. The tone of Big Fan feels very similar to Siegel's past writing venture, The Wrestler. In both films Siegel proves that he is able to craft a story that feels so rooted in the real world that at times it can feel as if you are simply a fly on the wall watching these events unfold. The only problem with this is that the real world can be boring, and without the direction of Darren Aronofsky to help bolster it, Big Fan occasionally slips into this category.

Big Fan follows the life of Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt), a devout New York Giants fan, and parking garage attendant. Paul plods along through his life, living with his mother (Marcia Jean Kurtz) in Staten Island, working nights at the parking garage, and finishing everyday by cranking one out before he falls asleep. We soon see that the only thing that Paul really cares about is football, or more specifically, the New York Giants. Paul meticulously crafts rants about why his Giants are "destined" for glory and calls in to a local late-night sports radio show where he is a known contributor and enemy of Philadelphia Eagles fan, Philadelphia Phil. Paul seems happy with this life and only asks that come Sunday he can put down another win for the Giants. Things then take a turn for Paul as a night out with his best friend Sal (Kevin Corrigan) results in a sighting of his favorite player Quantrell Bishop (Jonathan Hamm). The two follow Bishop through Staten Island eventually coming to a Manhattan strip club. In the club Paul finally builds up the guts to go over and talk to Bishop and in a drunken state Bishop misinterprets something Paul says and beats him to a pulp. The rest of the film follows Paul and his struggle to figure out his life as everyone around him tries to get him to sue, and imprison his hero, all while his Giants stumble and fall from their path to "destiny".

The acting in this film is its true saving grace. Oswalt proves that he is so much more than the voice of the rat in Ratatouille. He becomes Paul, leaving the audience completely convinced that the Giants truly are this man's reason for living. Also of note is Kevin Corrigan. Corrigan is continuing to be "that guy" in movies. He is probably best known as Eddie on TV series Grounded for Life, but he has also popped up in movies like True Romance, Goodfellas, The Departed, and more recently Superbad and Pineapple Express. The guy is a great actor and really deserves a lot more credit than he gets. With the character of Sal, he really is the only character to stick by Paul throughout the entire film, and he is completely believable the entire time. Not once is the audience left to wonder why Sal is supporting every decision Paul makes. Corrigan never makes us feel that he is just the token best friend in the movie. Sal supports Paul because that is who he is and we never doubt that. Corrigan truly deserves to get a lead role in a film so that he can really show people what he can do.

The comparisons between Big Fan and The Wrestler are unavoidable. Both were made on a small budget, take place in lower middle class urban neighborhoods, and deal with sports. Unfortunately for Siegel, where Aronofsky succeeded with The Wrestler, Big Fan seems to falter. The direction is not bad; it just causes the film to sag in spots. I was bored during some long stretches of the movie that made me feel like I was watching the most mundane moments of Paul's day. The visuals often leave something to be desired, making the viewer feel like the film was a few steps away from being great.

Big Fan manages to combine just the right amount of comedy in what is most definitely a drama. The acting is surprisingly good, with both Oswalt and Corrigan turning in great performances. Siegel shows us again that he is a great writer and has a gift when it comes to crafting believable real life dialogue. The direction causes the movie to be boring in some parts most likely due to this being Siegel's first outing. Even if you are not a football fan, which I am not, you will be able to enjoy this movie. And maybe next time you hear a crazed fan on a radio call-in show, you will feel a little differently.

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