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Comedian Patton Oswalt plays Paul, a parking garage attendant who lives with his mother and spends his nights crafting perfect phone calls to his favorite local sports radio talk show. He is the ultimate Giants fan, and for him and his only friend, Sal (Kevin Corrigan), the perfect day consists of tailgating and watching a Giants game in the parking lot of the stadium. One day, they spy their favorite Giant, Quantrell Bishop (Jonathan Hamm), at a Staten Island pizza parlor, and follow him to a midtown strip club. Their gawking, stalking, fan-boy maneuver comes to a violent end with Paul getting beat down and hospitalized by Quantrell. Though he was almost killed, he refuses to talk to the police about the incident for fear of lengthening Quantrell's suspension and continuing the Giants' demise, especially against the dreaded Philadelphia Eagles. From here, Paul teeters on the edge of self-destructive delusion and unhealthy idolatry, climaxing in yet another act of violence.
Shades of Scorsese's King of Comedy abound, especially in scenes where Paul's late night sports tirades are interrupted by his mother pounding on the wall, screaming for him to shut up. Taxi Driver is another reference point here, although Paul's obsession and self-deprecation are far from Travis Bickle's anti-social psychosis. Oswalt plays Paul with a tinge of humor but a great deal of pathos. It's a quiet and really quite powerful piece of acting. When things go wrong for Paul, the shadow that washes over Oswalt's face says more than the script.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the film is watching Paul carefully write out his sports tirades. For a brief moment, when he is given his airtime, he is a part of something. Sure, it's armchair coaching built upon a lexicon of sports terminology and clichés, swagger, and after-the-fact advice, but for just a second, he is a part of something. The rest of his life may be a mess, but when "Paul From Staten Island" is given a chance to voice his sports opinions, however trite they may be, he's a member of the club.
Big Fan is one of the best films of 2009, a triumph for its writer/director, Siegel, and a testament to Patton Oswalt's ability to subvert his comedy background with intense dramatic flair.
TRAILER: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ov-SdY3hvZ0 SEE ALSO: www.bigfanmovie.com
SEE ALSO: www.firstindependentpictures.com
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.
See other articles by Jonah Flicker.
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