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Big Fan


By Joe MacLeod | Posted 9/30/2009

This year's Oscar-bait journey into low-rent pathos is written and directed by Robert D. Siegel, writer of the Oscar-nominated The Wrestler, and stars funny comedian/accomplished actor Patton Oswalt (The Comedians of Comedy, Blade: Trinity, Ratatouille) as Paul Aufiero, a pudgy schlump of a man who lives in Staten Island, works in a parking garage, and is a--wait for it--big fan of the National Football League's East Rutherford football Giants. The isolated and sedentary nature of his dreary fluorescent-lit day job gives him time to write "takes" to unprofessionally recite/speak pro-Giants rant-calls to his favorite sports-talk radio show featuring the cancer-throated "Sports Dog" (voiced by real-life cancer-throated sports shock-jock Scott Ferrall), much to the dismay of his family, and delight of his similarly Giants-obsessed pal Sal, played by Kevin Corrigan, apparently sporting casual male wardrobe from his other movies, or possibly his personal collection.

Meanwhile, in addition to being a--here we go again--big fan of the Giants, Paul is in no small way a disappointment to his mom (Marcia Jean Kurtz)--he lives with her, in case you hadn't intuited that super-spoiler info--who wants him to get married, etc., and we find ourselves intruding upon many intimate and plainly disgusting human moments in Paul's life. Oswalt is a brave soul indeed to let the camera have its way with his form, and expressive and sometimes disturbing facial expressions, and have us associate him with this largely infantile, unattractive, and unsympathetic character in what initially appears to be a standard tale of a sports sycophant's encounter with real life. But while some of the business in this picture is a little cut-and-paste--spirit-crushing settings, tacky suburban people and houses, open on-the-job contempt from total strangers--there's a lot of dialogue in this movie that's real, and funny, and the story does not go anywhere near what you're used to. Maybe.

Don't be put off by the sports. You might not want to see this movie, and if you do, you may lose patience with this schmuck along the way, but you will follow him to the end to see what the hell is going to happen, because he's the only one who knows. If there's an Academy Award this year for Best Pathetic Human Being in a Motion Picture, Patton Oswalt should at least be nominated. He wouldn't win.

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