Sundance Review: Big Fan, At Its Core, Is About a Loser

"The film misfires on a number of emotional and logical levels."


Big Fan wasn't for me. The film, starring Patton Oswalt, attempts to paint the portrait of an obsessed NY Giants fan, and the pathetic life he leads due to his fandom. The film misfires on a number of emotional and logical levels -- and it feels a lot like the movie you make if you don't watch sports and don't understand those who do. If you're looking for a tale of a fanatic you'd be a lot better off re-watching The Fan. It's not very good, but it feels a hell of a lot more honest than Big Fan.

We all know the people who suffer because of their teams. As a lifelong Miami Dolphins fan I've ended up disappointed every year of my life, but I keep coming back for more. The reason is a simple one, and one that Big Fan completely whiffs on. I keep coming back because of the sense of community. Come to think of it that's what keeps people coming back to churches, alumni groups, and book clubs too. It's not the thing that's important, it's the people you share it with. Patton Oswalt plays a guy who would be unrecognizable juxtaposed against the actual big fans I know.

Back to the lecture at hand, Patton lives with his mom, calls into late-night sports talk radio, and works in a parking garage booth. He has one friend, also a Giants fan, and they go to the stadium on game day to hang out in the parking lot. They don't go into the game, the merely watch it outside on a television hooked up to a car battery. Whaaa? Now, that's not to suggest that this sort of individual doesn't exist, as he most certainly does. The issue is calling your movie Big Fan, throwing an NFL jersey on him, and having that be the hook. But this guy was going to be an idiot no matter where you placed him. The same movie could be made about cinema fans, fans of Star Trek, or people who love poetry, because it has nothing to do with the medium itself. The movie takes pains to make this guy a Giants fan, and then completely misses what it is to be an actual fan. There was a great movie to be made about the crazed maniacs who pound six pints of beer before heading off to Monday Night Football. It's just that this movie doesn't bother with any of the truth behind the situation.

So I'm guessing that people who watch sports won't find much value here. People who don't watch sports, on the other hand, will be thrilled to have the stereotype confirmed that people who aren't like them are inferior. But everyone has to believe in something. Whether it's the Dolphins or Kate Hudson's early work, most people have a passion for something. But to pick the one fool out of the litter whose fandom is the least relevant thing about him seems pointless.

Grade: D+