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USA 2009
Directed by
Robert D. Siegel
86 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Big Fan

Writer/director Robert D. Siegel who penned The Wrestler has a real flair for the underbelly of the sports film genre. Big Fan is a darkly comedic look at the obsessive sports fan  - the chronic loser who lives completely vicariously through the life of his team.

Patton Oswalt is pitch (so to speak) perfect as Paul Aufiero, a.k.a. “Paul from Staten Island”,  a 30-something  parking attendant who lives at home with his mother (Marcia Jean Kurtz) who regularly calls a late-night sports radio show to deliver carefully scripted rants about his beloved New York Giants although he and his mate, Sal (Kevin Corrigan), are such losers that they have to watch the games on a portable TV from the stadium parking lot because they can’t afford tickets.

One night, Paul and Sal come across Giants' star quarter-back , Quantrell Bishop (Jonathan Hamm), and wrapt with excitement follow him, ending up in a nightclub. They finally muster up enough courage to approach Bishop but the drunk player interprets their adulation as stalking and attacks Paul. Although badly knocked around, Paul has to face a moral dilemma when Bishop gets suspended and the Giants begin to lose ground.  Shifting blame to himself, Paul refuses to press charges or sue Bishop despite the urgings of his ambulance-chasing lawyer brother (Gino Cafarelli). Eventually he cracks under the relentless needling from an on-air antagonist, a loud-mouth going by the moniker of "Philadelphia Phil'"(Michael Rappaport).

Big Fan is a film that packs a lot into a small package - refreshingly unfamiliar subject matter, an unassumingly intelligent script that gets the balance of comedy and tragedy right, nifty directing from first time director Siegel and strong team performances from a diverse cast.  It would be hard not to be a fan.




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