Review: Big Fan

bigfan.jpgBig Fan

Written and Directed by Robert D. Siegel

Starring Patton Oswalt, Kevin Corrigan and Michael Rapaport

In Big Fan, screenwriter Robert Siegel’s (The Wrestler) directorial debut, Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille, The Informant!) plays Paul Aufiero, a 35-year-old parking lot attendant who fills his working hours drafting rants for late-night sports radio call-in shows. When Paul and his best friend Sal (Corrigan) spot Quantrell Bishop (Jonathan Hamm), star linebacker of their beloved New York Giants, at a local service station, they follow him to a Manhattan strip club in the hopes of getting some face time with their favourite player. The resulting encounter does not go well and lands Paul in the hospital, where he’s left to unravel a nightmarish situation that could cost the Giants any chance of a playoff berth.

Much like The Wrestler, Big Fan takes as its protagonist a character who is a failure by most measures. Rooting around in this failure, the film attempts to expose a redeeming passion or nobility that lifts its hero above social judgment. This search does not prove as fruitful as it did with Mickey Rourke’s character Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson, but Paul Aufiero elicits enough sympathy to have you rooting for him.

What Big Fan does a much better job conveying is the difficulty of relinquishing one’s passion in the face of change. Paul’s reluctance to give up his fandom – the only defense he has against the never-ending criticism he endures – even when presented with an opportunity to improve his lot in life, is the film at its most insightful. Similarities to Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo 66 were frequent enough to bother me and the conclusion left more than one loose-end, but Oswalt’s performance and a last-minute plot twist top the list of saving graces.

Big Fan opens on November 27.

— Evan Rosser