Comedian Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille, The King of Queens) is excellent as rabid NY Giants fan Paul Aufiero. 36-year-old ‘Paul from Staten Island’ lives with his mother sans Internet, is surrounded by very successful siblings while he works as a parking garage attendant, and he has no girlfriend. The only things Paul has in his life are his love of the Giants, his best friend Sal (played by Kevin Corrigan of Pineapple Express) and his obsession with NY Sports Talk Radio.
It is over the NY airwaves that he battles via phone calls, script scribbled in preparation ahead of time, with his nemesis ‘Philadelphia Phil’, coolly played by Higher Learning’s Michael Rapaport. It’s a rap battle, e.g., 8 mile, except it’s rehearsed and delivered by a tortured geek from his bedroom where his mom interrupts his speeches by yelling at him to quiet down. The two have a running, hysterically serious yap fest via 760am’s The Zone - hosted by none other than SIRIUS’ Scott Farrell as the ‘Sports Dogg’.
Paul and Phil have nightly phone-in arguments. Phil disparages Paul’s favorite Giant, Quantrell Bishop. Paul comes back with, “Pressure on McNabb and he crumbles like a cookie!” Paul is so amped up and excited after delivering that zinger that…he dates his hand. (This might touch a bit close to home for many daily sports radio callers.) Think that’s sad? Paul and Sal attend games in the parking lot of Giants Stadium. No tickets. They watch on a 13-inch screen after tailgating ends. That picture sticks with you and should be the future cover of the DVD.
Paul and Sal notice Bishop and his entourage filling up their Escalade one night while eating pizza at a local joint on Staten Island. They decide to follow him. Great stuff when Sal wonders if Quantrell might be heading out – Paul notices the time, 10:46pm, and says, “Nah, it’s too late.”
But they are going out. They wind up at the strip club HQ in New York City . Brings back memories of a certain NY Post Antonio Pierce video…The duo ante up and go inside to admire Bishop. Paul decides to visit the Giants player and tell him how great he is. It’s OK until he slips with, “Yeah, we saw you in Staten Island…” All hell breaks loose as Bishop now thinks that he has an obsessed stalker on his hands. Not for long. A vicious beating ensues that will remind viewers of the Hitchcock Psycho shower scene.
Paul awakens three days later in a hospital to the news that he has a hematoma, that the Giants lost while he was in the coma 41-28, to the Chiefs…..and that Bishop is suspended by the NFL pending an investigation.
The New York press really turns it up. Paul is seen reading a Newsday / NY Post type column. (Newsday, the NY Post and the Daily News are all featured prominently in the movie. Though neither Bob Glauber or Chris Mascaro played the part of 'Newsday Reporter'. Instead it was the director, Siegel, in a cameo as Adam Feuerstein, Newsday. Feuerstein was a high school friend of Siegel) :
Let’s Send a Message to Thug Athletes
Here we go again. It’s the latest installment of the all too long running show called Athletes Behaving Badly. And this week’s episode was filmed right here in our own back yard.
This is where Oswalt really goes into blitz mode. Did the beating exasperate Paul’s obsessiveness? Or is Bishop’s suspension (the hero who just pummeled him) and the Giants losing ground to the hated Eagles in what will become a one-game-for-it-all clash on Monday Night Football sending him spiraling further out-of-control? Does he really not remember the attack or his he just stonewalling Detective Velarde? (Soprano’s Matt Servitto)
The final twenty minutes of this fast (1:26) film spin at you like a tornado. An unwanted lawsuit (and lawyers keeping info off the Internet...), Philadelphia Phil with more and more ammo to fire over the airwaves, and Paul feeling the wrath of a city that feels (real or imagined) that he is the cause of the Giants losing. Paul putting on game day facepaint leads to as tense a 7 minutes as one has seen in theaters since Gran Torino.
Siegel was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year. If Oswalt isn’t very careful…he could be looking at an Oscar nomination.
Big Fan opens in NY and Philadelphia on August 28th. Visit the official site for showtimes and future cities.