January 19, 2010

Justify My Netflix: Big Fan

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Big Fan

Today's movie: Big Fan, 2009 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because this sleeper hit from last autumn contains two elements I find irresistible these days: it was written and directed by Robert Siegel, former editor-in-chief of The Onion and screenwriter of The Wrestler; and it stars the exquisitely foul-mouthed comedian Patton Oswalt, here playing a loutish obsessed New York Giants fan and serial talk-show caller.

The reality: Freaking incredible. And that's the funny thing, that you would expect a movie like this to grate on me like fingernails on a chalkboard; after all, it's essentially a psychological profile of the kind of nebbish loser I despise, one of those fat, curse-spewing frat boys who completely and utterly define themselves through the fate of a corporate sports organization that exists exclusively to rip them off. And indeed, Siegel uses nearly every detail of this movie's set-up to show just how despicable "Paul From Staten Island" is supposed to look in the eyes of others -- he still lives with his mother, works the night shift at a parking garage for a living, spends hours meticulously composing the inane chatter he recites on his favorite radio show each evening, and even travels to the parking lot of Giants Stadium for every game, even though he can't afford to actually go in. But this is the power of Siegel as a writer, that he makes such an utterly blase milieu so fascinating here, turning in what's actually mostly a character drama about blue-collar antiheroes who could care less about what the rest of society considers "normal," with touches that are very similar to such '70s classics as Marty; and I thank God that Siegel was such a failure at Judd-Apatow-style fart-joke comedies when he first started out, as he admitted in a recent interview, because otherwise we would be missing what has turned out to be two of my absolute favorite movies of the last two years. As pitch-black as dark comedies get, this is a movie that any intelligent film lover will by no means want to miss, even if they do end up cringing nearly all the way through it.

Strangest piece of trivia: Siegel himself puts in a cameo here as Newsday reporter Adam Feuerstein, named after an old high-school friend of his.

Worth your time? Absolutely

And P.S., let me just mention again what a phenomenal job Oswalt does here, a revelatory performance that will forever change the way you look at him as an actor, even more astounding when you realize that in real life he doesn't follow sports whatsoever.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 2:44 PM, January 19, 2010. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |