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Big Fan

Living for the Game

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Everyone has a friend who’s just a tad over the top about his favorite sports team. Well, what if everything he did in his everyday life revolved around that team? Robert Siegel intends to show you. Siegel, former editor of The Onion, burst out of the gates scripting Darren Aronofsky’s acclaimed The Wrestler. Now, he’s back taking a seat behind the camera and proving he’s a force to be reckoned with. Leading man Patton Oswalt also establishes himself as more than just a funny man. Just as The Wrestler brought Mickey Rourke back, Big Fan will introduce Oswalt as an actor with depth and talent.

Siegel successfully dives into the depths of Paul (Oswalt), a man who’s literally obsessed with the New York Giants and their fictional quarterback Quantrell Bishop. Working by day and night as a parking lot attendant, he spends his time writing speeches to for a call-in sports radio show to counter his archenemy Philadelphia Phil (Michael Rappaport). But, Paul is just biding his time until next Sunday’s Giants game, the only thing he truly cares about. Paul and his partner in crime Sal (Kevin Corrigan) travel nearly every Sunday to the Giants stadium to tailgate and then watch the game on TV in the parking lot. It’s a sad sight, but not as sad as Paul’s mom pounding on his bedroom wall to keep it down as he insults Phil and the Eagles on sports radio while Sal lies at home rooting for his best friend.

After Paul has a violent run-in with Bishop at a nightclub, his obsession dives deeper into delusion. Bishop severely beats Paul within inches of his life, and while any reasonable person would press charges, Paul worries that legal action would suspend Bishop from playing and send his Giants into a losing streak.

Paul’s life is put into perspective as fantasy is pushed straight up against reality. He’s forced to finally face that reality and ponder a life without the Giants. He’s confused, angry and frustrated, unsure of what his next move is. Oswalt plays the embarrassingly irresistible Paul with perfection. He has moments of tenderness and moments of pure humiliation. But most importantly, he plays Paul realistically, a man perpetually feelin’ kinda Sunday.