Release Date: Aug. 28
Director/Writer: Robert D. Siegel
Cinematographer: Michael Simmonds
Starring: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Corrigan, Michael Rapaport, Marcia Jean Kurtz
Studio/Run Time: First Independent Features, 85 mins.
Wrestler writer’s directorial debut shows promise
Before Robert Siegel wrote The Wrestler for Darren Aronofsky, he wrote a screenplay called Big Fan
about a Staten Island parking-lot attendant who spends his nights and
weekends obsessing over the New York Giants and their star linebacker.
And before that, Siegel edited satirical newspaper The Onion, which may
explain why both of his dramatic screenplays are built on deep currents
of absurdity—it’s in his blood.
Now he’s brought Big Fan to the big screen, directing it himself as a kind of homage to Martin Scorsese’s underappreciated 1982 film about overzealous fandom, The King of Comedy. Patton Oswalt plays Paul, a guy who lives at home with his mom and writes screeds against rival fans, which he reads on late-night call-in radio shows. Paul is aggressive only within the safe confines of his bedroom, but his emotion is wound tightly enough that if he were to meet rival forces face-to-face, fireworks could fly. Or maybe these tailgating hot heads would shrink into their respective shells. It’s hard to say.
In the hands of a stronger director, this material could make a taut, ironic thriller. But Siegel edits scenes without rhythm or confidence, and he lets his story sag badly in the middle when his character lacks motivation. Still, the disorienting finale, which is somehow surprising and inevitable, comes together nicely, and the complex themes woven into the tale show that Siegel has great potential as a storyteller.