final double feature of Movie Week, I opted to pick
two films that had perception shifting performances by the lead actors. First up is Big Fan.
Patton Oswalt is a minor deity in geek culture. He not only wears his geek flag proudly, but he’s also taken part in some of the most cult shows ever. He’s incredibly funny and a talented comedian. But can he act?
Big Fan sets out to answer that.
Spoiler alert – I know he can act. I really enjoyed his turn at Constable Bob Sweeney on Justified and he knocked it out of the park in Young Adult. The guy’s got the goods.
But Big Fan is where Hollywood took notice of Patton. He’s the lead in this story of a New York Giants fan who takes his fandom too far and pays the price for it. It’s an interesting portrait of a very specific type of sports fan.
Oswalt excels at playing outcasts and Paul is definitely an outcast. The only thing he has to look forward to in life is the success of the New York Giants. But rather than play it as a sad existence, Oswalt instills Paul with a level of being content that’s admirable. Paul’s relatively happy with the status quo.
Both Oswalt and Kevin Corrigan, who plays Paul’s best friend Sal, really capture the rabid fanaticism that comes with being a diehard sports fan. They have rituals and a shorthand that really goes to show how much these two bond over the team.
And Michael Rapaport does an amazing job as Philadelphia Phil. I’ve worked with Philadelphia fans before and I can tell you that they are the most insufferable obnoxious people on the planet. They are the worst. You couldn’t pick a better antagonist for this film, or any film for that matter, than someone who roots for the Philadelphia Eagles.
But while I enjoyed the performances, the story rang false to me.
It’s pretty unbelievable that in 2008 linebacker in the NFL wouldn’t have taken measures to get out the jam. The fact that no one from Quantrell Bishop’s camp tried to pay Paul for his silence felt unrealistic. Plus Quantrell was with his boys, one of whom I’ve got to believe would have to step up to take the charge, especially when the cop admits that there are no witnesses.
So the fact that no one from Bishop’s camp reached out to Paul and that no one else stepped up claim responsibility for the beatdown really sort of took me out the movie. When you’re talking about an athlete of that caliber, missing that many games, and none of those things happen, it’s just not believable.
But apart from that, Big Fan is a good film. Nice portrait about the length to which some fans will go.