Big Fan

Big Fan

2.0 2
Director: Robert Siegel

Cast: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Corrigan, Marcia Jean Kurtz

     
 
A parking garage attendant and lifelong New York Giants fan finds his life spinning out of control following an altercation with his favorite football player in this darkly comic drama starring Patton Oswalt. For 35-year-old Staten Island native Paul Aufiero (Oswalt), sports are a religion. Paul still lives with his mother, he's the self-proclaimed "world's biggest

Overview

A parking garage attendant and lifelong New York Giants fan finds his life spinning out of control following an altercation with his favorite football player in this darkly comic drama starring Patton Oswalt. For 35-year-old Staten Island native Paul Aufiero (Oswalt), sports are a religion. Paul still lives with his mother, he's the self-proclaimed "world's biggest New York Giants fan," and he spends most of his spare time calling in to the local sports radio station 760 "The Zone," where he can frequently be heard bickering with his contentious on-air nemesis Philadelphia Phil (Michael Rapaport), a fervent Eagles fan. Berated by his family for his obsessive love of sports, Paul retorts that they simply cannot appreciate the responsibility that goes with being the New York Giants' number one fan. One night, Paul and his best friend, Sal (Kevin Corrigan), spot Giants linebacker Quantrell Bishop (Jonathan Hamm) at a local gas station and impulsively follow his SUV to a Manhattan strip club. Once inside, the two friends bask quietly in the presence of football greatness before cautiously approaching their idol. When things don't go as planned and Paul winds up in the hospital, the resulting media frenzy finds him questioning everything he believes in just as his beloved team begins preparing for a late-season showdown with the Eagles. Former Onion scribe and Wrestler screenwriter Robert D. Siegel makes his feature directorial debut with this film, which he also scripted.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
If you're a loser by society's standards, yet you refuse to accept or even acknowledge that label, then -- technically speaking -- does it still apply? That's the question writer/director Robert Siegel asks about Paul Aufiero, the football-obsessed, nonconformist character in Big Fan, and it's just one of the nuances that makes the film such a fascinating psychological study in fandom. The term "fan" is tossed around so casually these days that it's easy to forget its somewhat more ominous origins. Paul is more of a fanatic than a fan -- his obsession with the New York Giants has almost certainly impeded his personal growth and social development -- but despite appearing somewhat pathetic to the casual observer (or even his close family), the truth is that his misfit status empowers him. He's almost an inversion of Siegel's character of Randy "The Ram" Robinson in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler, and the same could be said about the film itself; Siegel's impressive directorial debut most certainly lacks the autumnal tone and quiet reflection that endeared Aronofsky's film to critics and audiences, but it's still a riveting character study made all the more watchable by Patton Oswalt's manic lead performance. New Jersey native Paul Aufiero is the New York Giants' biggest fan. A thirtysomething parking garage attendant who still lives with his mother, Paul eats, sleeps, and breathes football. At work he's constantly listening to AM sports radio, and in his off-hours he phones in to his favorite show to defend his beloved team against Philadelphia Phil (Michael Rapaport), an outspoken Eagles fan who takes great delight in taunting Giants fans over the airwaves. One night, while eating a slice of pizza in a local restaurant, Paul and his best friend, Sal (Kevin Corrigan), notice Giants quarterback Quantrell Bishop (Jonathan Hamm) gassing up his SUV across the street. Impulsively, they follow their idol to a Manhattan strip club. When they finally work up the courage to approach Bishop, the festive atmosphere in the club quickly sours and Paul's hero pummels him into a coma. Awakening in a hospital three days later, Paul suddenly finds himself at the center of a media circus. His brother, an ambulance-chasing lawyer, wants to sue, but all Paul wants is for his favorite team to thrive. Since Bishop has been suspended as a result of the investigation, however, the Giants are on a losing streak. Later, when the pressure from the media, his family, and Philadelphia Phil becomes too much to bear, Paul finally snaps. Siegel seems to have a knack for writing rueful characters, but with his second screenplay he refreshingly opts for satire over sentiment (perhaps no surprise given his former role as editor-in-chief of The Onion). Though at first this may be somewhat off-putting for fans of The Wrestler who suspected Siegel was moving in a more mainstream direction, it's precisely that dark, biting undercurrent that reveals the writer/director's strongest traits as a storyteller. Big Fan doesn't fit neatly into any specific genre, but that just makes it all the more interesting for viewers who savor the rare film that really gives them something to chew on. Siegel truly understands the mindset of the rabid fan, and one needn't be into sports to appreciate his insight, because regardless of the direction in which it's focused, the attitudes that go along with being a rabid enthusiast are somewhat universal. And while the film may treat fandom as something of a compulsive mental illness, it isn't afraid to poke fun at it a little bit by exploring the ways in which a fan is created as well. At what point does a parent's eagerness to share their own personal tastes in sports and entertainment with their impressionable children cross the line into the inappropriate? A key scene in which a seven-year-old is presented with a birthday cake decorated with bullet holes and the image of a strapped 50 Cent highlights the fact that contemporary society's celebration of petty thuggery stretches well beyond the arena of sport; and a subsequent scene in which Paul savors the rapper's sugary-sweet visage while impatiently rejecting a relative's patronizing pleas to strive for "something better" reveals just how strangely we're looked at when we consciously opt to reject the status quo. Somewhere along the line, we've come to equate personal happiness with the high-paying job, the house in the suburbs, and the perfect family. But who's to say a less popular concept of personal happiness, however unusual it may seem to the masses, is any less valid? Paul's family most certainly equates money and success with personal satisfaction, but seen through Siegel's lens, they're infinitely more miserable than the man they pity. If you're looking for subtlety, you're bound to be disappointed by Big Fan (one scene in the film literally sees a despondent Paul shuffling beneath a sign that reads "Male Ego"), though who's to say that's necessarily a bad thing? Sometimes a little sting of the obvious is just the thing to make us realize that we've grown numb to the idiocy all around us. Sure, Siegel's skills as a director could use some sharpening, but it's the words and ideas that make Big Fan such an absorbing film, and since it's his first outing behind the camera it seems unfair to criticize the film's aesthetic shortcomings too harshly. Because of its pungent skewering of contemporary social mores, Big Fan shares more in common with a film like Idiocracy than it does with something like The Fan (the most obvious comparison), and though Siegel's caustic brand of social commentary may not be as disarmingly farcical as Mike Judge's, it's arguably just as effective.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/12/2010
UPC:
0883476012124
Original Release:
2009
Rating:
R
Source:
First Independent
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:27:00

Special Features

Closed Caption; Outtakes; Q&A with Robert Siegel and Patton Oswalt ; Kevin Corrigan recalls his own "Big Fan" experience; Siegel and Oswalt interview with Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air" ; Downloadable poster; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Patton Oswalt Paul Aufiero
Kevin Corrigan Sal
Marcia Jean Kurtz Theresa Aufiero
Michael Rapaport Philadelphia Phil
Matt Servitto Det. Velardi
Gino Cafarelli Jeff Aufiero
Serafina Fiore Gina Aufiero
Jonathan Hamm Quantrell Bishop
Joe Garden Dennis
Polly Humphries Christine
Scott Ferrall Sports Dogg
Caroline Gallo Gina & Jeff's Daughter
Maya Louise Dispensza Christine & Dennis's Daughter
Sidné Anderson Hospital Doctor
Julian Lane Birthday Boy
Cookie Bradshaw Law Office Ad Woman

Technical Credits
Robert Siegel Director,Casting,Screenwriter
Elan Bogarin Producer
Vera Chow Costumes/Costume Designer
Jen Cohn Executive Producer
Nick Gallo Associate Producer
Jean Kouremetis Producer
Mike Loew Associate Producer
Sharoz Makarechi Production Designer
Michael Simmonds Cinematographer
Yori Tondrowski Asst. Director
Joshua Trank Co-producer,Editor
Philip Watts Score Composer,Sound/Sound Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Big Fan
1. Sports Talk [10:55]
2. Blitz the QB [9:53]
3. Sacked [12:37]
4. Inactive List [13:02]
5. Line of Scrimmage [11:51]
6. Turnover [7:31]
7. Behind Enemy Lines [12:35]
8. Unsportsmanlike Conduct [9:33]

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Big Fan 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's a shame that the only other review of this film didn't get it. This ain't "Rudy", it's a beautiful character study of a lower middle class working stiff whose only hope in life is to march to victory vicariously, on the shoulders of Giants; The New York Giants. Paul's facade is that of the "#1 Giants fan", but in reality he's just an insecure guy who can't even call his favorite sports-talk show without a script in front of him. Of course he lives in his mother's basement, and takes relentless abuse from angry customers at the parking garage where he works. The deep pain he feels from his meager existence, however, is all forgotten when Sunday rolls around. Sadly the heroes he has exalted turn out to be worse than he is, as his sincere but naive appreciation of their greatness is shattered by the reality of who they are. Yet Paul remains loyal, even after his heart, and several bones are broken. The real enemy is a fan of the opposing team. The climactic scene when he finally confronts his radio call-in rival, Philadelphia Phil is both shocking and oddly hilarious when the truth is revealed. This is a story of hero worship gone terribly awry as Paul inadvertently unmasks his idol, only to discover that behind that facade is a face far uglier than his own. This is a sort of "Death of A Salesman" for sports fanatics. Paul is Willy Loman, in a way. He's a phony, but an endearing phony, who is just doing the best that he can. Let me be clear, this is not a great film, nor is it a particularly important one, but it is a very good story of the pathos of everyday existence, as we struggle to define ourselves in a world where those we hold up as heroes, are not worthy of the effort it takes to lift them there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe the worst movie I've ever wasted that much time on.