Sunday, February 21, 2010
Big Fan (2009)
At this rate writer and, this time, director, Robert Siegel is on his way to being king of the depressing sports movie. He also wrote The Wrestler. Big Fan feels like a grimy character studies from the 70's, with bits and pieces of pitch black humor. It focuses on Patton Oswalt as Paul Aufiero, a Giants superfan who happens to have a run in with his favorite player one night. And how that changes his life. Or doesn't. Its interesting because it takes a lot of the cliches of a sadsack fan, whose only lifeline is a sports team: Paul lives with his mother, has a truly dead end job, no prospect of a love life, and the only time he feels a sense of belonging or even a bit of triumph is when he is going to the Giants game and watching them on a portable television in the parking lot or when he calls up the local New York sports station in the middle of the night and gives his rants he has written down during his shift as a parking attendant. When he calls the radio station, its the only time he gets a modicum of respect for his super boosterism. I've seen it said that Big Fan
is a cliched look at how certain people view sports fans. But I think it is just a focused take on a very certain kind of fan. And he didn't even have to be a sports fan-its more of a look at a man who, it seems, has let his life pass him by, even though he swears he doesn't need or want anything else, but finds solace in his sports obsession. Because even in the real world, not on the radio, he even still seems to be an outsider. In the end, its a look at someone, who, to the rest of the world, doesn't seem to belong anywhere, but at, in his head, he has carved out his own niche. No matter how sad it might look. The ending is interesting too, because his solution to everything that happens to him, well 1) he doesn't learn anything in the end (or his tunnel vision is too much to overcome) and 2) Its a somewhat twist of an ending that somehow ends up feeling more pathetic than what I thought he was actually going to do.
I saw Patton Oswalt a few weeks back doing standup, and it took me a bit to get used to him in a more dramatic role. I like him a lot as a comedian. But his casting here, Robert Siegel also cast everything, is pretty perfect. Although, because of his looks, I wonder how many sadsack roles he is going to be offered from here on out. Hey, its not a bad way to make a living, he does a good job at it. (Being a nerd, he might not know anything about sports, but he knows a lot about obsessing over seemingly minor or trivial things, he has said in interviews he brought a lot of that to the table.) Also, I need to mention Kevin Corrigan as his best friend Sal. Corrigan seems to have cornered the market of late on playing scumbags, and he is really good at it. Although here he doesn't do anything overtly scumbaggy, but even just his look gives off that air.