Big Fan


Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27

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Critic Reviews

  1. 75
    Siegel takes us to the brink of operatic melodrama, then lands us in a tragicomic spot: a psychological landscape of alternate life and make-believe death.
  2. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    A bleakly funny character study of a very particular species of urban fauna - the sports radio call-in fanatic - Big Fan’ is compulsively watchable.
  3. 70
    Though the movie isn’t much to look at, he (Siegel) gets a credibly dark and pathetic performance from the typically comic Oswalt.
  4. 88
    One of the more thought-provoking sports movies I've seen.
  5. Oswalt captures the rabidness of the die-hard fan, the kind you can hear at any moment on the sports talk shows.
  6. The movie is an unblinking look at the hidden (or perhaps not so hidden) pathology of American sports mania.
  7. Starring an ideally cast Patton Oswalt in the title role, Big Fan is a poignant, dead-on character study, an examination of a crisis in the life of the most die-hard of die-hard New York Giants football fans.
  8. 75
    Superb Noo Yawk attitude, dialogue and performances (including one from the essential Kevin Corrigan, now well into his second decade of being indie movies' dirtbag on demand) keep the movie lively and tart.
  9. Siegel, in his debut as director, shot the low-budget Big Fan on a digital camera and achieves an appropriately grimy, gritty look. He has an eye for the telling detail and for the comedy in tragedy.
  10. 83
    Oswalt sells Auferio's pasty indecision and makes him a more sympathetic figure than he has any right to be.
  11. 75
    There are some very funny parts but this isn’t a typical sports comedy.
  12. 75
    Structured as a comedy, albeit a dark one.
  13. 75
    Comedian Patton Oswalt triumphantly nails every comic and dramatic nuance as Paul Aufiero, a New York Giants obsessive who has long ago moved from fan to fanatic.
  14. Sad, funny and painfully honest.
  15. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    With its unremittingly bleak humor and eagerness to plumb the depths of fanboy abjection, Big Fan seems destined for a future in the cult canon.
  16. Near the two-minute warning, Big Fan becomes chillingly unpredictable.
  17. 83
    Because the audience isn’t privy to the hero’s thoughts, the final 15 minutes or so of Big Fan are white-knuckle.
  18. It's an unsettling, "Taxi Driver"-like character study that shows the underside to hero worship and the primal world of professional football.
  19. A spasmodically funny and bleak film about the love that speaks its name.
  20. 80
    Unlike "The Wrestler," which Siegel scripted, Big Fan has a way of making a socially marginal figure seem oddly charismatic without stacking the sympathy deck.
  21. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    It's a small, peculiar film, one unlikely to appeal much to women, non-sports fans and mainstreamers, but its uncomfortable comic insights should win it a loyal following.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 26 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 7
  2. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. Jul 3, 2014
    Big Fan: 6 out of 10: This is Precious for white people. Same collection of overweight pathetic losers, same overt racial stereotypesBig Fan: 6 out of 10: This is Precious for white people. Same collection of overweight pathetic losers, same overt racial stereotypes (assuming Guidos are a race, which I believe technically they are. An offshoot of Oompa Loompa line if I recall correctly), and the same is this supposed to be funny moments.

    But instead of wallowing in the ethnocentric misery of rape, incest, AIDS, illiteracy, and stealing fried chicken of Precious. Big Fan deals with that most tragic of stories; the lifelong Giants fan.

    Talented comedian Patton Oswalt plays the schlub with such spot on dramatic conviction that the film has no hope of being a comedy or for that matter being feel good and redemptive. We are in for the long haul and we know this isn't going to turn out well. (A feeling Giants fans should be familiar with.) The film is shot with a seventies eye and is directed by Robert Siegel (in his directing debut) who wrote the quite funny Onion Movie and surprisingly uplifting The Wrestler. The plot follows the actions of Oswalt, a 35 year old loser that still lives with his mother and works as a parking lot attendant. His only outlet is as a caller to the Sports Dog show as Paul from Staten Island where he reads of a carefully crafted notebook of clichés, and battles his nemesis, a caller from Philly.

    That is the entirety of his life till one night he and his friend run into the Giants star linebacker at a gas station. (The linebacker is nicknamed QB which confused more than one non-sports fan movie reviewer).So they follow Lawrence Taylor (excuse me QB) to a dodgy part of Staten Island where he appears to pick up some drugs and then follow him into Manhattan to the nudie bar Scores (excuse me a Scores like club). He and his friend eventually confront their hero at the nudie bar looking for an autograph where the paranoid QB, thinking they may be stalking him for a shakedown, beats Oswalt into a three day coma.

    And there is the conundrum. Does Oswalt press charges and sue therefore perhaps getting the means to better his life (and for that matter afford actual Giants tickets rather than watching them from the parking lot every Sunday), or does he claim amnesia and QB will be eligible to play again for the Giants as they head towards the post season.

    The film has some missteps in the second half as director Siegal struggles with some of the second half plot twists that take away from the gritty realism of the first half. In addition, while the acting and casting is top notch across the board; some of the characters themselves are stereotypes so broad they seem to border on parody.

    I like football and sports gives guys something to talk about. It is a much safer small talk subject than religion, politics or how I would like to sleep with your wife. I have never understood however the "Sports Fan" as depicted here, but I do understand the need to find a creative outlet in a pathetic dead-end life….

    Excuse me I have to cry myself to sleep now.
    Full Review »
  2. May 25, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Big Fan is quite possibly one of the best sports films of all time, and it doesn't have a lick of football in it. It shows the life of Paul (Oswalt) as the self proclaimed biggest Giants fan there is. As he gets beaten by his favorite Giant Quantrell Bishop (Hamm) for unexpectedly witnessing a drug deal, Paul is suddenly thrown into a situation of doing what's right and what ever will help the Giants. It's truly what all independent films should model themselves after and it is overall an incredible film. Full Review »
  3. Jan 25, 2013
    Patton Oswalt's Paul Aufiero is a depressing character to focus on for a full eighty-six minutes. He's a lonely man in his late thirties,Patton Oswalt's Paul Aufiero is a depressing character to focus on for a full eighty-six minutes. He's a lonely man in his late thirties, living with his mother, making end's meet as a parking garage attendant where he spends his time either sulking at the loneliness of it all or jotting down notes while listening to the broadcast of the New York Giants game so that he can read them aloud on a radio show later that night. Yes, Paul is a "big fan" of the New York Giants, and his devotion is incorruptible, even when the unthinkable happens.

    But before I blaze that trail, I return to my point about the notes, which Paul turns into a lengthy rant about how well the Giants played during the game. He will go on to read the rant live on his favorite radio program, hosted by "Sports Dogg," under the ambiguous name of "Paul from Staten Island," where he frequently exchanges punches with "Philadelphia Phil," a frequent caller into the sports station to praise the Philadelphia Eagles and slander the Giants. On the phone, Paul sounds like a totally different man. Not a depressed and listless man in his thirties who resides with his mother, and not a man of no further ambition. Just a passionate and quirky outsider who shows true commitment to what he loves, which is sports. He's the kind of guy you'd want on your side for moral support and a working set of ears.

    Paul's only friend is Sal (Kevin Corrigan), and the two show invaluable bonding when they tailgate during the Giants home games and run a long extension cord through their car in order to sit outside the stadium and watch the game happening feet away from them on a puny little antenna TV. One day, Paul and Sal spot Quantrell Bishop (Jonathan Hamm), the Giants quarterback, and his faithful entourage in Staten Island and, in a starstruck-haze, decide to follow him to see if they can snag an autograph or exchange some words. They drive through a bad neighborhood, where Bishop picks up something that likely isn't the most legal thing on the market, and they wind up at a strip club, where the two friends get the courage to walk over and talk to them.

    Bishop views them as two loner geeks interrupting his night, and things get rough when Paul accidentally brings up the part about him driving through a rough neighborhood. Bishop assumes they were being followed and, in a fit of rage, beats poor Paul to a pulp and is left unconscious for three days until he wakes up in a hospital bed. There, Paul is informed that his personal-injury lawyer brother (Gino Cafarelli) is ready and willing to cook up a lawsuit, and that an NYPD detective (Matt Servitto) wants to get all the details of what exactly happened the night of the altercation. The problem is that Paul doesn't want to remember what happened that night. To him, Quantrell, regardless of what he did to Paul and how badly he left him damaged, he just wants to move on with his life, unburdened by the incident, and not have his love for the New York Giants soiled by this one unfortunate mishap. Only the conflicts this poses on his family begin to come out of the woodwork. His mother begins to bring up the fact that he is a lonely man, desperately searching for companionship and his brother can not fathom the idea that Paul would not want to pursue a court case or a lawsuit against Quantrell.

    Patton Oswalt gives what I call a career making performance in Big Fan. A performance just subtle enough that you may overlook it, yet just powerful enough to you will remember it. Oswalt, rarely leaving frame at all here, is so deeply sympathetic and easy to feel for in this film. But why? The look in his eyes in numerous scenes (take the excitement and expression in his face when he's "Paul from Staten Island" for example, or even when he is being lectured by his mother in the car after his brother's party) often accentuates the feeling of misery or dim joy. He is a figure that we understand his moral position, but question his decision not to move forward with a lawsuit against Quantrell regardless of the "idol-status" he has obtained in Paul's heart.

    It is questions like this that are too psychologically complex to answer without oversimplifying and that is what makes Patton Oswalt's character and performance so memorable. We can side with him only to an extent before he makes the decision to move forward and move on from his current problem. I was stunned that director Robert D. Siegel (former editor in chief for the fake newspaper "The Onion") took this material with such depth, heart, and seriousness. Big Fan is a film detailing the dark side of spectator sports, a multi-billion dollar industry that focuses on those who put on a jersey to play and make millions and those who buy overpriced tickets to games in the exact same jerseys that were sold in order to continue fueling the pockets of those involved in the industry.
    Full Review »