Sunday, September 18, 2011

Movie Reviewed - Big Fan

Maybe I think Patton Oswalt is funnier than he is. I recently watched a brief stand-up clip of his, and while I chuckled a couple times, I didn't have any laugh-out-loud moments. But somewhere in my head, I have it that he's some kind of comic genius. I know a friend of mine has relayed a few jokes of his, and he re-tells them better than Oswalt delivers them himself, so I'm sure that's part of it. Thankfully though, watching Big Fan has helped me to view him a little more objectively.

The story follows Oswalt's character Paul, a deadbeat toll booth operator who's a tremendous New York Giants fan. He's a typical fanatic, owning lots of memorabilia and calling in to late night radio shows to give his take on his favorite team. One fateful night, he has an unpleasant encounter with his favorite player, and Paul has to figure out how to react to an internal crisis. He's got friends, family, a detective, and reporters who try to get him to do one thing or another, but in the end he resolves his situation in his own way.

Oswalt is certainly believable as a kind of loser, living with his mother and being cynical and snarky towards his lawyer brother, and anyone else who isn't either a sports celebrity or in the same dregs as himself. And really, while the film doesn't boast a particularly impressive lineup of actors (Michael Rapaport is the only other big name here), everyone seems very real. It's movies like this one that make you wonder how much of our assessments of people's acting ability is related to their attractiveness. Like, is Natalie Portman a good actress, or do I just want to take her home with me?

In the end, though, the solid acting doesn't make up for a mostly uninteresting story and a script that doesn't make you care about any of the characters. Maybe their soulless interactions are part of what make them realistic, but if real life were that interesting, I wouldn't watch movies. I'm looking for something more when I watch a movie, and it just wasn't there in Big Fan.

The Last Word: I don't think I'd recommend it, but I couldn't say it was a total waste of time. Definitely not a contender for my "Movie of the Year" list, though.

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