Well, the drama of the 2011 NFL lockout is over. Football is back. The Arizona Cardinals find themselves in training camp in Flagstaff, and soon, 60,000+ fans will fill University of Phoenix Stadium to cheer for Larry Fitzgerald and recently acquired quarterback Kevin Kolb.
Fans are certainly thrilled, and one fictional fan, Paul Aufiero, from the 2009 movie “Big Fan”, would certainly be happy his New York Giants are back on the gridiron. Writer/director Robert Siegel delivers this unique and engaging film about, arguably, the most obsessed football fan in movie history.
“Big Fan” 4 / 5 stars – “I can’t tell you how sick I am.”
For Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt), this is how he begins his long-winded rant on sports talk station 760AM The Zone.
It’s 1am, but he’s not speaking off the cuff. Paul wrote down every word on a looseleaf piece of paper and rehearsed it numerous times before the station actually took his call.
You see, Paul hates the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and loves his New York Giants. And calling into his favorite local sports radio show to bash the Eagles and praise the Giants is a huge part of his existence.
Paul, in his 30s, lives in his mother’s house, works in a parking garage and doesn’t really date. This doughy-faced guy from Staten Island has a textbook case of arrested development, and palling around with his best friend, Sal (Kevin Corrigan), and breathing New York Giants football is his life.
Raising a family or finding a career aren’t important at all. The only things that really matter are owning enough Giants paraphernalia (like posters, a Phil Simms license plate, NFL bedsheets) for his room and putting on his Giants # 54 Quantrell Bishop jersey while his beloved team takes the field on Sunday.
Life seems pretty swell in his world, until one fateful night in a Manhattan club changes everything.
Suddenly, Paul finds himself in a brewing controversy that directly impacts what he most covets, the New York Giants.
Writer/director Robert Siegel does a terrific job of setting the stage for Paul’s massive internal conflict.
Complete with cold and grey November/December skies, worn streets, a local diner and pizza joint, Siegel perfectly captures life in New York’s surrounding boroughs. Without the benefits of sound stages, small budget films often have advantages over bloated Hollywood productions because they simply shoot film in the environment they wish to portray.
Siegel’s film is no exception, as we, the audience, uncomfortably walk with Paul and Sal in their single-minded shoes.
At the same time, Oswalt delivers a truly memorable character on our doorstep that makes you say, “I can’t tell you how sick Paul Aufiero is.”
“Big Fan” is rated R and is available on DVD.