Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 23 Ratings

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  • Summary: 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. One night, Paul and his best friend Sal spot Giants star linebacker Quantrell Bishop at a gas station in their neighborhood. They impulsively follow his limo into Manhattan, to a strip club, where they hang in the background, agog at their hero. Paul cautiously decides to approach him, stepping into the rarefied air of football stardom--and things do not go as planned. The fallout of this 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. Meanwhile, the Giants march toward a late-season showdown with the Eagles, unaware that sometimes the most brutal struggles take place far from the field of play. (First Independent Pictures) Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. The movie is an unblinking look at the hidden (or perhaps not so hidden) pathology of American sports mania.
  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. 83
    Because the audience isn’t privy to the hero’s thoughts, the final 15 minutes or so of Big Fan are white-knuckle.
  4. 75
    Structured as a comedy, albeit a dark one.
  5. Reviewed by: Duane Byrge
    It's an unsettling, "Taxi Driver"-like character study that shows the underside to hero worship and the primal world of professional football.
  6. 70
    Though the movie isn’t much to look at, he (Siegel) gets a credibly dark and pathetic performance from the typically comic Oswalt.
  7. The movie gets repetitive, and when it calls an audible and goes somewhere unexpected, it pulls back quickly. Too bad.

See all 27 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 5
  2. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. 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, 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.
  2. Dec 6, 2011
    Even though the main character is written to be quite pathetic, I think it's easily relatable to everyone who has been disenchanted by one of their heroes, famous or otherwise. That's why you root for him. He's making obvious poor decisions but how easy is it really to make the right ones when the weight of the world is on your shoulders and every move matters? This movie beautifully outlines a character badly in need of a victory in a world that has so few of them. Detailed and original. If you have no insight or need cover models in your movies so your up on the latest fashions then steer clear of this great film. Expand
  3. Oct 30, 2010
    Just don't go in to this thinking it's a comedy. It's a depressing slice of life, I guess we're supposed to find comedy in the sadness of it all. It was believable, and well acted, but quite honestly, I just stopped caring about this guy or the film at a certain point and was really nonplussed when it was over. Disappointing because it had huge potential. Expand

See all 5 User Reviews