Sundance 2009 Review: Robert D. Siegel's Big Fan
by Alex Billington
January 20, 2009
There's no hiding that I was quite excited to see Big Fan, the directing debut of screenwriter Robert D. Siegel, who most recently wrote the screenplay for The Wrestler. Unfortunately the film was quite a let down, with Siegel himself being the biggest problem, and actors Patton Oswalt and Kevin Corrigan being the only redeeming aspects of the sports comedy. Even for die-hard football fans, I can't see Big Fan being anything that anyone can enjoy much. It was short on laughs, lacking a quality story, and boasting amateur direction at best. It's not the worst film I've seen here at Sundance, but it's definitely not that great either.
Big Fan stars Patton Oswalt as the New York Giants' self-proclaimed biggest fan Paul Aufiero. Every night he calls in to the local football radio show to fire off a spirited rebuttal to "Philadelphia Phil" and his Philadelphia Eagles flaunt. Quantrell Bishop is the one player that Paul adores the most and is the key to the Giants' success. When Paul and his friend Sal (Kevin Corrigan) see Bishop at a gas station, they follow him all the way to a strip club and end up getting their asses kicked. From there, Paul struggles to not press charges against Bishop so that he can keep playing and also must deal with the backlash from other fans.
I'm not entirely sure how, but it takes a complete 102 minutes to get through this rather unoriginal story. Although I will say Oswalt's ability to truly bring this character to life on-screen makes some of the comedic moments quite funny, Siegel's direction brings it all down again. His inability to craft a story and shape scenes combined with choppy editing made it quite boring to watch. As much as I wanted to love this and as much as I wanted to laugh, it would've been much better off in the hands of a far more capable director than a first-timer. This is worth seeing only if you like Patton Oswalt, otherwise you're better off skipping it.
Sundance Rating: 5 out of 10