Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt), a 35-year-old parking attendant who lives at home with his mother, is the self-described world s biggest New York Giants fan. He spends his off hours calling local sports-radio stations where ... more »he rants in support of his beloved team. One night, Paul and his best friend Sal (Kevin Corrigan) spot Giants star linebacker Quantrell Bishop and follows his limo to a strip club. Paul decides to approach his hero but things don t go as planned. The chance encounter brings Paul s world crashing down around him as his family, the team, the media and the authorities engage in a tug of war over Paul, testing his allegiances and calling into question everything he believes in.« less
Lewis P. (Turfseer) from NEW YORK, NY Reviewed on 10/23/2010...
Expose of sports fanaticism has inspired moments of lunacy but needs better finale
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Robert Siegel, the talented new screenwriter responsible for the indie hit, 'The Wrestler', now has written and directed his own feature on a limited budget. 'Big Fan' chronicles the misadventures of Staten Island resident Paul Aufiero, a fanatical New York (football) Giants fan who's in his mid-thirties and still lives at home with his mother. Paul works at a dead-end job as a parking attendant but has no interest in finding a new career. Instead, he pals around with Sal, his best friend, who is equally fanatical about the Giants. The obsessed couple reminds me of the hapless Garth and Wayne from Wayne's World in that they seem to revel in their social awkwardness.
The fun of 'Big Fan is to see just how far Paul will go in his obsession with his beloved Giants. A good part of the obsession revolves around Paul's late night calls to a New York sports talk radio station. He's earned a reputation as the special caller from Staten Island, mainly known for his aggressive put-downs of the Philadelphia Eagle football team as well as their fans (Paul has a particularly noxious rivalry with his counterpart in Philadelphia, who also makes numerous late night calls to the station). In his provincial world, Paul fancies himself the king of all Giant fans but doesn't have the self-confidence to speak spontaneously when he calls into the radio talk show (instead he writes down what he wants to say on a pad of paper and reads it over the air, only to have his canned speech interrupted by his mother who ends up castigating him over the phone while the radio audience can hear everything she says).
Due to their low paying jobs, Paul and Sal can't afford to buy a ticket and go inside the stadium to watch the Giants. Instead, they dutifully camp themselves out in the Giant parking lot and watch the game on a mini-TV set every week (Siegel was unable to gain permission from the NFL to film inside the stadium, so he created the above 'parking lot' scenario).
We break into the Act Two of 'Big Fan' when Paul and Sal spot one of their favorite Giant players, Quantrell Bishop, hanging out with some friends in the Stapleton section of Staten Island. Paul and Sal drive into the City following Bishop and his entourage in their limousine and they all end up at an x-rated club in Manhattan. Paul attempts to strike up a conversation with Bishop and possibly get a picture taken with him. Things go horribly wrong, when a drunken Bishop believes that Paul is some kind of stalker and ends up pummeling him to the point where Paul ends up in a coma for three days. Bishop is immediately suspended by the NFL and his fate is up in the air.
When Paul awakes from his coma in the hospital, his brother, a negligence attorney, wants to sue Bishop for $70 million. Naturally, Paul, the die-hard fan, will have nothing to due with the lawsuit much to the chagrin of his brother. Later, an NYPD detective pays numerous calls to Paul and finds that he's a totally uncooperative witness. Had this happened in real-life, Paul's identity would probably have been revealed in about a day's time and he would have been subject to intense media scrutiny. This is one of the major weaknesses in the plot. Instead, Paul's brother institutes the lawsuit without his permission and only after his brother takes action, does the media get wind that it's Paul who was involved in the incident at the strip club.
There are moments of inspired lunacy in Big Fan. I particularly liked the take-off on the infomercial created by Paul's brother. The nagging of Paul by family members is not far removed from reality and the hoarding of the soy sauce by Paul's mother is a classic commentary on the root of Paul's dysfunction. Kudos also to the 'Sportsdog', the manic talk show announcer who I'm told has a sports talk show in real life on Sirius FM radio. More could have been done with Paul's sidekick, Sal, who ends up as a glorified cheerleader and what about Bishop? He simply disappears after the incident at the club.
Big Fan becomes darker and less comic at the climax. After Paul's identity has been exposed and he's labeled a turncoat on talk radio, he feels he has to prove his 'loyalty' to the Giants so he puts on some 'warpaint' and drives to Philadelphia where he confronts the despised 'Philadelphia Phil' in a bar bathroom. At first it appears that Paul shoots Phil with a real gun which would have destroyed the entire comic tone of the movie; but as it turns out, the gun is merely a paint ball pistol and he ends up showering Phil with paint. Still, the scene underscores Paul's abject pettiness as he must resort to humiliating his rival by pretending that he's about to shoot him. The scene unfortunately makes Phil a much less likable and much more pathetic character as he resorts to violence to deal with his 'humiliation'. And one wonders if a character such as Paul would have done such a thing in the first place. After all, his goal is to prove to as many people as possible that he did not betray his team but his humiliation of Philadelphia Phil happens in a vacuum—no one else will ever get wind of what he did nor would anyone be impressed by his actions.
Big Fan would have been more successful if we come to like Paul at the end despite his obsession. Instead, the lovable loser morphs into someone who's mean-spirited. Siegel however is to be commended for satirizing the fanatics of our society who delude themselves into believing that what they have to offer is meaningful, when in reality their obsessions are reflective of a profound shallowness.
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My bias against spectator sports ...
Wunder One | Silicon Valley | 02/05/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My bias against spectator sports means I don't watch sports, don't watch movies about sports. But this movie tweaked my interest and I'm glad it did. It isn't about sports ... not even so much about sports fans, though that is the backdrop of the movie. For me, it was about people who don't "fit in" finding a place of their own, a place to feel not alone. This sweet, sad, and funny movie is incredibly well done. Paul and Sal are unforgettable."
Marx was wrong, religion is NOT the opiate of the masses..
Kevin Quinley | Fairfax, VA | 02/21/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The NFL is.
This is a chilling depiction of how obsession with a sports team morphs into a genuine psychological pathology. This uber-Giants fan loses all perspective in his identification with his favorite team and player, despite the fact that the latter beats him to within an inch of his life. Sad commentary on modern life and how devoid of meaning it can be that people develop unhealthy attachments to a sports team.
At times the movie was hard to watch, but it was well done in depicting the dark underbelly of sports obsession.
As to this movie, it made me a big fan..."
Arnita D. Brown | USA | 03/24/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Paul Aufiero, a 35-year-old parking-garage attendant from Staten Island, is the self-described "world's biggest New York Giants fan". He lives at home with his mother, spending his off hours calling in to local sports-radio station 760 The Zone, where he rants in support of his beloved team, often against his mysterious on-air rival, Eagles fan Philadelphia Phil. His family berates him for doing nothing with his life, but they don't understand the depth of his love of the Giants or the responsibility his fandom carries. "Big Fan" manages to combine just the right amount of comedy in what is most definitely a drama. The acting is surprisingly good, with both Oswalt and Corrigan turning in great performances. The direction causes the movie to be boring in some parts. It is a low budget production, but I felt it was pretty good.
The purpose-driven life
J. L LaRegina | New Jersey | 03/15/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"With that pithy title, BIG FAN summarizes its story. Protagonist Paul Aufiero builds his life around an N.F.L. football team and as BIG FAN unfolds, we see just how much the man wants his club to win. The film does not try to analyze Aufiero, played well by Patton Oswalt. My guess? This fellow was born with the fan gene. It's D.N.A., but just not as common as others. Were money, women, or, say, civil rights his obsession, perhaps people would not question him. But the New York Giants?
Actors Michael Rapaport, Serafina Fiore and Kevin Corrigan excel in their supporting BIG FAN roles playing Paul Aufiero's sports fan rival, sister-in-law, and fellow Giants disciple, respectively. BIG FAN's strength is showing us people as they are. It would not surprise me if the filmmakers considered shooting BIG FAN documentary-style before settling on its traditional form.
See BIG FAN. "
G. Teslovich | 03/02/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was surprised by "Big Fan" because of the accuracy with which it portrayed a behavior that is all too common throughout the world as we've all seen in it's most extreme - killing through fanaticism. I've experienced this fanaticism from the elementary to the collegiate level in my coaching and although much of it is well intended too much of it is personal projection from lives looking for fulfillment. To see the alcohol driven pre-game parties surrounded by million dollar motorhomes with fans dressed from toes to top of head in team colors and whose emotional if not functional week rises or falls with each movement of a ball is a neurosis that afflicts not only our society but many others. I'm not sure which institution in society is most responsible for addressing this issue of the fan fantasy world - religious, educational, political - but it would probably be suicidal to tackle it (puns).
"Big Fan" was well written, directed and acted. Kudos!"