Starring: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Corrigan
Directed by: Robert D. Siegel
Rated: R for language and some sexuality.
Movie Released: 2009
I was born and raised a Minnesota Vikings fan. So of course, I easily subscribe to the old saying that “real men wear purple.” I was a Vikings fan before being a Vikings fan was cool. The rules of being a Vikings fan were (and unfortunately still are) pretty simple. For 16 weeks you cheer for a team knowing that your super bowl dreams are far fetched, and no matter how bad your team is at least you don’t have Brett Favre as your quarterback. Well…most things stay the same (does anyone know- is he retired again? And has he decided if he wants to buy that TV from Best Buy?). The point is, I love watching football, but I’m not a big fan. Sure, I had a hard time accepting the fact that Brett Favre is the Vikings Quarterback (and still do), but at the end of the day it’s just a game.
Now on the other hand, I happen to know someone who also reviews for BoxOfficeBoredom.com and his own blog, From Midnight With Love (who of course shall remain nameless) that truly is the definition of a “big fan.” This fan lives, eats and breathes green and gold, and up until last year never experienced a Packer game with out the almighty Favre. For 16 weeks a year, this fan (wearing his Reggie White jersey) yells at his TV and angrily uses his twitter and facebook accounts to plot the demise of the Packer’s weekly foe. When the Packers lose, this guy feels like his heart has been ripped out and stomped on. And of course when his childhood hero jumps ship and pummels the Packers on Monday Night Football, it takes this poor guy everything he’s got to get up the next morning.
The point is, while I am not a true “big fan” , I feel like I know enough about the subject to understand the inner workings of one who truly is. Robert Siegel’s film, Big Fan, tries to take a stab at what it would be like to be a slightly mentally unstable football fan who just happens to be beaten within an inch of his life by his quarterback hero. Torn between making a police report that could put his hero behind bars, and letting him get away with an assault charge for the greater good of The New York Giants, this super fan deals with a large internal struggle. Compounded with a dead end job, and an older brother that pities him, Paul (Oswalt) really has very little going for him except the New York Giants. Paul is hell bent on making sure that others know of his team colors, calling in nightly to a sports talk radio show and arguing with a Philadelphia Eagles fan with his pre-written motivational script.
From start to finish of Big Fan, you have a very hard time getting your brain wrapped around the film. Paul (Oswalt) is not really a lovable character, and you find yourself feeling pity for him, rather than liking him. He is such a deranged, obsessed fan that he has devoted his life to football, and lives at home with his mother. Paul lives his life like a 14 year old boy, with a room complete with posters of his sports heroes on his wall. His best friend, is an equally challenged sports fanatic that only furthers your pity for the two die hard, dimwitted Giants fans in this film.
What makes things even more stranger is the choice of putting Patton Oswalt in the role as the “big fan.” Oswalt doesn’t necessarily scream football fanatic in any way, shape or form, and instead seems more like a comic book reading geek, who would much rather hang out in comic book shop playing Pokemon rather than be in the parking lot of Giants Stadium. The point is, Oswalt really isn’t that convincing as a true big fan. His partner in crime, Kevin Corrigan manages to pull it off quite well, but Oswalt just doesn’t deliver.
First time director Robert Siegel takes a stab at writing and directing Big Fan, and while I admire his attempt at pulling double duty on the film he should have spent more time on one or the other. The film reeks of overblown and overdone cheese. In fact, Siegel tried too hard to point out the almost pathetic nature of his characters, so much so that you don’t find them believable. For example, there is a scene where Oswalt’s character forces himself to wear his rival teams colors, and the director tries to focus on how much this truly sickens him to do so. While it would be certainly hard for me to wear a Favre jersey, I don’t think I would lose my lunch over it.
Top off a overblown script and mediocre performances, the film ends just about as quickly as it begins leaving you scratching your head. However, despite the strange ending to this film it is really hard to see the film end any other way. After all, Siegel takes great care in trying to point out that this super fan is not really the most mentally stable person in the world. (Apparently he missed the day in school where they announced it was only a game).
The point is, Big Fan is a big waste of time. It’s a middle of the road at best, mediocre flick that wants to be something that it is not. It lacks heart, likable characters, solid direction and a decent script. It really has nothing going for it, except for Patton Oswalt, whom I feel is miscast. Don’t feel too bad if you skip this one. It’s much more fun to just find your own real life big fan and point out to them that their childhood hero is now a Minnesota Viking and then slowly watch them self destruct. (Not that I know from experience)