Big Fan Robert Siegel

Big Fan Robert Siegel
Robert Siegel's Big Fan was one of the finest movies of 2009, but unfortunately nobody saw it. The film made a pitiful $230,000 in North America, which is a shame. Though the small, dark and bizarre movie was never destined to top Avatar at the box office, it should have at least found some sort of receptive audience. The movie falls into the subgenre of loser comedies like The King Of Comedy or American Splendor. Like those titles, the film is about a perpetually shit upon man who struggles through simple day-to-day activities, but has found a level of comfort and happiness in his pathetic existence. It's an incredibly subtle and insightful character study that certainly won't appeal to everybody, but should develop a loyal cult following on DVD. Patton Oswalt (possibly the finest stand-up comedian working today) stars as Paul, a lonely misfit who still lives with his mother and works as an attendant in a parking garage. Paul has little he cares about in life other than football, which is his passion. During his graveyard shifts at the parking lot, he writes rants for the local sports call-in radio show and attends Giants games weekly with his only friend (although they can't afford tickets, so they watch the games on a television in the stadium parking lot). Paul's pathetic existence falls apart when he approaches his favourite player in public and is viciously beaten after a misunderstanding. The police want Paul to press charges and his sleazy lawyer brother wants him to sue, but poor Paul can't bring himself to do either for fear of hurting his team's chances to win. Big Fan is the directorial debut of Robert Siegel, who edited satirical newspaper The Onion for years and wrote the screenplay for The Wrestler. This film embodies all of the best qualities of The Wrestler (the uncomfortable realism, the subtle character comedy, etc.) and has none of the faults (the sentimentality, the "stripper with a heart of gold," etc.). It's a mesmerizing character piece that manages to be both soul-crushingly depressing and realistic while also being quite funny (often in the same scene). Siegel proves himself to be a talented director in the final act of the film, which is almost unbearably tense and features a fantastic piece of misdirection. Comedian Patton Oswalt gives a remarkable lead performance that would have surely earned him a variety of awards if anyone had bothered to see the movie. Big Fan is a truly underrated gem about the pains of fan boy obsession that demands to be scene by any film fan. The DVD features some disposable outtakes, a few interesting interviews with the director and cast, and one of the most misleading covers of all time. The studios are trying to sell this as a bright and bubbly football comedy. High school jocks everywhere are going to be very disappointed when they rent Big Fan at face value. (VSC)