Last night I screened Big Fan, starring Patton Oswalt and Kevin Corrigan.
Paul Aufiero (Oswalt) is a sad soul. He works a dead-end job as a parking booth attendant, lives with his mother and has no relationships to speak of except with that of his best friend Sal (Corrigan). Did I mention, he's in his mid 30s?
Everyone around Paul pities him, but Paul himself. Despite all of the obvious negatives in his life, he has one thing that keeps him going: his love for the New York Giants. He attends home games, calls in regularly to a sports radio show with scripted rants for their opponents and meticulously keeps track of scores and players.
But when one of his obsessive actions takes fandom too far, he single-handedly jeopardizes the future of the team. To prevent giving it all away, I won't say what that action was, but it was completely believable. And the way folks around him react to it is also authentic.
How he handles it will have you cringing, and the surprise twist ending will shock you almost as much as the ghost in The Sixth Sense did. I have to admit, I didn't see it coming.
So is the film worth watching? Sure. It's well-written and its characters are realistic (if not a bit exaggerated in a few cases). It has some laughs along the way and has a quiet pace, but that's okay—it just gives viewers a sense of what it must be like to live a lonely existence.
Anyone who has ever had an obsession will see parts of themselves in Paul, whether they want to or not. And how far they've taken their obsession will most likely determine the intensity of their reaction.
It also reminds us not to judge too harshly—sometimes lives aren't depressing until their critics make them so.