We review “Big Fan”: they sent us a screener!

11 01 2010

"Big Fan" - it's about football, sort of!

It’s been a while since we’ve had any hot-off-the-presses news regarding that good ol’ redheaded cousin nobody likes to talk about, the AFL, but we recently received an offer to take an advanced look at “Big Fan”, last year’s well-reviewed but barely-seen dark comedy starring Patton Oswalt. Since we’re both fans of free stuff, and JM’s been playing over here as of late, we said “hell yes”.

“Big Fan” follows Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt), a die-hard New York Giants fan that has diddly-squat to live for. When a chance encounter with his hero, the G-Men’s star linebacker Quantrell Bishop, goes seriously wrong, Paul ends up in the hospital and Bishop is benched, and the Giants’ playoff hopes start to fade faster than a Plaxico Burress touchdown route (provided he hasn’t shot himself in the leg,  been arrested, or jailed). Paul decides he’s coming down with amnesia, in the hopes Bishop will get to retake the field, the Giants have a better record than the Eagles, and his rival sports talk caller, Philadelphia Phil (Michael Rapaport) will have to eat a plate of crow.

Commence the tried-and-true POINT-COUNTERPOINT:

POINT: STORY: JM: “Big Fan” is a typical indie feature – small in scope. So small that a movie about a giant Giants fan does not feature a lick of on-screen sport. Oswalt is the ultimate outsider, so far removed from the team he loves he’s forced to watch games in the Meadowlands parking lot. This, however, is to the film’s advantage. By keeping the stakes low and not going with the obvious Hollywood plot turns, “Big Fan” feels frighteningly authentic, which makes the relatively small stakes feel big and black-comedy end note all the more visceral.

TC: ADDENDUM: If there had been ONE MOMENT of football action, the story would’ve collapsed. We only are able to experience the despair and joy and hope and pathos through watching Oswalt’s reactions. We’re obligated to trust his reactions, because we get – at best – snippets of play-by-play. And more stunningly (to me): Oswalt succeeds in doing it for us. I never for one moment went “Well, this is unbelievably overboard.” This MAY be due to the fact that I’m a sports fan, and have (recently, as a matter of fact) lived and died with a team’s fortunes. Mind you, I didn’t get the crap kicked out of me by Cory Wooton (as they say in Spain: El Espoiler!) but still: it’s scary how we’re able to say to ourselves “there but for the grace of God go I.”

PATTON OSWALT, ET AL, POINT: TC: If I have one complaint with the performances, it’s that Patton Oswalt’s character is dumped into a pastiche of random Jersey/Staten Island stereotypes. So, you have this nuanced, tortured character hanging out with pretend people. With the exception of his pal, who’s a nicely affable, if dim, fellow.

Let us now discuss my favorite Patton Oswalt performance: any time he’s crafting/delivering one of his radio-call-in rants. I think I said while I was watching the movie that it reminded me of high school speech. But it’s actually the obsessive crafting of a comedy bit. It makes complete and total sense, and makes Oswalt the perfect choice. I could watch him assemble and deliver his rants all day.

JM: EXTRA POINT: I agree, Kevin Corrigan, the house-party host from “Superbad” among other stuff, is amusing as Oswalt’s dimwitted partner in fandom. His family members are somewhat generic, but I’d argue Oswalt’s performance and character keeps those stereotypes in check. Michael Rapaport is fun as the quintessential asshole fan of your rival team.

On Oswalt rehearsing his call-in rants: yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. The call-in scenes illustrate both the gross inadequacies and blind fanaticism of our protagonist. His passion is hindered by his propensity to mix metaphors and trip over his own words, which isn’t helped by the thin walls separating his bedroom from his mother’s. There’s been a quiet buzz among the critics and online community that Oswalt’s performance could make him a dark horse Oscar contender, and likewise the widened field for ten best picture nominees could give “Big Fan” a chance for wider exposure.

Which brings us to our final

POINT: OVERALL IMPRESSION: JM: I was thrilled to finally see this flick. It played in Chicago for one night at the Music Box (where I also missed a Q&A with writer/director Robert Siegel and Oswalt) back in October, and despite a strongly positive critical reception the film didn’t see a wider theatrical release after it’s initial tour. “Big Fan” is a simple story told with uncommon grace. Aside from being both a riveting drama and occasionally laugh-out-loud dark comedy, we’re given a chance to reflect on what it means to be loyal to your team, and how our teams can bring us together or drive us apart. Oswalt’s expressions when watching the final game of the regular season are priceless, and the lengths he’ll go to for the Giants are all the more bleakly comic when we consider how far removed he is from his team.

TC: Oswalt is riveting. End of line. A nuanced, graceful, subtle film, handled delicately but not fluffily. If you’re a fan of sports, you know this. And if you’re not a fan of sports, this is just scary. My main criticism is I have no idea if the last 25 minutes of the movie is buy-able if you don’t follow sports. I think it might read as just pitiful and crazy to people who haven’t expended inappropriate amounts of emotion rooting for laundry.

It nails the critical fact that the players that fans root for, obsess over, and think they know are so far removed from their fans that they may be a different species. It’s a movie that grips you, and does its work without hammering you over the head. You aren’t embarrassed enough for Oswalt to stop rooting for him, and he’s not so pitiful you feel distanced from him. Somehow it walks a tightrope for, what, 90 minutes? 110? How long was this movie?

JM: 87 minutes.

It’s a jim-dandy of a little thriller/dark comedy, and is certainly worth checking out when it’s released on DVD this Tuesday.

“Big Fan” was written and directed by “The Wrestler” scribe Robert Siegel, and stars Patton Oswalt, Kevin Corrigan, and Michael Rapaport. We regret to inform you that no Eagles fans were hurt in the making of the film.


Arena Bowl XXII – The Live Blog

27 07 2008

It’s Here! Today! We’re going CoverItLive-style, and you know what that means: no embedding! Following links! Extreme laziness!

Who will take home the Kraken of professional sports trophies? San Jose or Philadelphia? I know I predicted San Jose, but I really want to see Bon Jovi hoist this thing with his spindly arms.

Keep in the care of this guy? No. Hell no.

Keep in the care of this guy? No. Hell no.

To follow the liveblogging extravaganza follow the mighty link: TO THE LIVE BLOG!

This Guy? Maybe.

This Guy? Maybe.

This Guy? Could Be...

This Guy? Could Be...

ARENA BOWL XXII: We’re Way Less Interesting Than Last Year

25 07 2008
I Cheated and Stole ESPN's Banner. Winner

I stole ESPN's Banner. I am a winner.

So, guess what? Between general apathy and real-life nonsense, we totally blew off the playoffs (which apparently were hosted in Crazy Town, final results notwithstanding), and aren’t going to New Orleans again. For which my liver thanks the Flying Spaghetti Monster. BUT ANALYSIS WILL ENSUE!



Multiple members of Bon Jovi! Jaws! More Cowbell! The Grieb Laser Industry! Darren Arbet! The Guy Who Owns Fry’s! D’Orazio! SOME OTHER PEOPLE OHMYGODIT’STHEARENABOWL!

Dear Point-Counterpoint, I never thought this could happen to me… (Jump?)

Read the rest of this entry »

This ArenaBowl is brought to you by the letters M, V, and the number 7

23 07 2008
This'll learn us some maths!

This'll learn us some maths!

Okay. The ArenaBowl is nearly upon us. As compared to last season’s painfully in-depth playoff coverage, due to a multitude of boring excuses we’ve done little to guide you through this year’s harrowing journey of [checking ESPN] Philadelphia and San Jose to New Orleans for ArenaBowl XXII.

How are we going to make it up to you?

With some sweet DVD giveaways, THAT’S HOW.

For whatever reason [most likely: we run a sports blog; least likely: our leather-bound books and odors of rich mahogany], we were recently contacted by some fine folks who offered us FIVE COPIES of the hotly anticipated Sesame Street sporting spectacular DVD “COUNT ON SPORTS”.

Want a copy? Leave a comment with your prediction of who will be the victor of Arena Bowl XXII for your chance to bring home the bacon, in Sesame Street DVD form.

Check back this weekend for an ARENA BOWL XXII LIVE BLOG, and coming soon, a LITERARY REVIEW OF SAID SESAME STREET DVD.

Don’t even act like we don’t love you. Now put a wager in the comments. We’ll draw winners at random if there’s more than five folks calling the game. Voting stops at kickoff.

Da Coach says…

7 07 2008


Da Coach.
Da Coach.

One is enough for now.”


Updated! New seeding on the ISF Craptacular ArenaBowl XXII Playoff Bracket!

2 07 2008


Do you know what’s as much fun as these WACKY AFL playoffs? That’s right, a year of chemistry compressed into 10 weeks! I’m as crazy as Ronnie Jaws breaking down game tape while he’s on 25 Red Bulls!

ArenaBowl XXII Craptacular Bracket Update: American Reseeding!

1 07 2008


Grand Rapids won, they’re now scheduled to lose to Chicago next week!

Updated bracket will post as soon as my pre-dental school lecture is over!