Friday, January 15, 2010

Big Fan – Cuz I Take it to Extremes…

If Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant! Reminds us of anything, it’s that great comedy should be based in the ability of funny people to play a role seriously. The film was speckled with notable comedians playing dramatic soles with little to no sense of irony. Patton Oswalt was amongst them though he was not given much to play around with to whet his acting chops. Now he’s given the opportunity to show that this funny man can get down right serious. And does he ever.

Paul (Oswalt) is a loser. He lives with his mother and works a dead end job taking tickets in a parking garage. He has nothing going for him, except the love he feels for his New York Giants. He spends his shifts at work penning diatribes to spew every night on the local sports radio show about how much the “Eagles suck” or how the Giants are gonna take out whichever team they’re up against next. His friend Sal (Kevin Corrigan, who I didn’t even know was in this, pleasant surprise) sits up late at night to listen to Paul on the radio and then immediately calls him after he gets off to discuss. The only thing Paul is more obsessed with than the Giants is the Giants star player Quantrell Bishop. By chance one evening Paul spots Mr. Bishop pumping gas and decides to follow him in the hopes of getting an autograph or even just a chance to say hi. They wind up at a strip club in Manhattan and Paul does everything in his power to get his hero’s attention (without actually leaving his seat). Finally they decide to just approach him and one wrong comment turns the entire situation south and he’s beaten senseless, by his hero no less.

This opens up a huge moral dilemma for Paul. The possible future of his team is in his hands. Does he blow everything he loves for justice or does he just let it slide and ‘take one for the team”? I joked with a friend of mine during the film that I didn’t know what I would do if I got the crap kicked out of me by say, June Lockheart (whom I adore). But seriously, Paul has some hard decisions to make that culminate in a shocking climax.

(June with yours truly, see she'd never beat me up. I talked to her about Troll and didn't mention Lassie at all)

I see great promise in Robert Siegel as a director. If you recognize the name that’s understandable, he wrote the critically praised The Wrestler. Siegel is also a prime example of what I mentioned above about funny guys doing serious work. He was as an editor for the onion, which if you don’t know what that is…you should. Great writing meets praiseworthy acting in this dark drama full of very serious funny people. Michael Rappaport also makes a brief appearance as an Eagles fan. It’s unfortunately that he’s not in the film more; he really is one of my favorite actors.

5 Hard Decisions out of 5

Next Up: Youth in Revolt – fun for you AND your alter ego

P.S. Patton Oswalt really does put in an amazing performance, especially next to some indie film powerhouses like Corrigan and Rappaport.

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