(By: Erik Davis - reprinted from the Sundance Film Festival 1/21/09)
Perhaps I'm predisposed to liking Big Fan since a) I'm a die hard Giants fan, b) I grew up in the neighborhood where it was shot, and c) it's a film about sports fanaticism, which is a topic I know quite a bit about. But that doesn't mean you'll hate Big Fan if you aren't familiar with sports or the New York football Giants because this isn't a film about sports, it's a film about fandom -- about being so in love with something you go overboard and neglect your friends, your family and your life in order to feed your addiction. This isn't a comedy about the goofy football fan who gets off on chanting and screaming his team's name; it's instead a cold, lonely drama (with brief moments of awkward humor) about the neurotic football fan who'd give up everything (and I mean everything) to see his team make the playoffs.
Set in the borough of Staten Island, home to the blue collar heroes of New York City, Big Fan follows just one of several guys who live and die by their favorite sports team. Football is in no way just a simple form of weekend entertainment in New York; it's almost a religion for some people -- including Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt), a 35-year-old Giants fanatic who still lives at home with his nagging mother while working the late shift inside one of those parking garage toll booths at a hospital. While at work, Paul spends his time carefully penning Giants-themed trash talk speeches so that he can call in to the overnight talk radio show and give those Philadelphia Eagles fans (especially one loudmouth nicknamed Philadelphia Phil) some of the business. This is Paul's entire life -- and when he's not at work writing his speeches, or outside Giants Stadium watching the games on a makeshift television with his one friend, he's dealing with a family who want Paul to finally do something with his life.