28 January 2010 | evanston_dad
Unbalanced Dark Comedy Is Mostly a Misfire
"Big Fan" is an unpleasant movie about an extremely unpleasant man.
Patton Oswalt plays a dumpy 37-year-old loser who lives with his mother and spends his life living vicariously through the glories of the New York Giants. On a night out on the town, he and his buddy catch sight of their favorite player and follow him to a nightclub. When they approach him, a misunderstanding leads to Oswalt getting badly beaten by him. But he refuses to take legal action against him despite the admonishments of his family, because he'd rather see his favorite player able to lead his team to a win than seek remuneration for himself.
"Big Fan" starts out as a low-key comedy, but gradually picks up dark overtones and seems like it's going to take its audience to some uncomfortable places. Oswalt's character comes across as a schlubby but mostly decent guy at first, but as the movie progresses, we start to wonder if he might be mentally unhinged. However, a cop-out ending lurches the film back into uneasy dark comedy, and basically asks us to find Oswalt's character endearing even though he's been nothing but off putting.
The tone is all over the place, the comedy never really working. If the film had acknowledged that Oswalt's character is a loser, and made some kind of point about the fine line that begins to separate hobby from obsession, it might have been more interesting. But it instead asks us to take his side, and seems to take the stance that his obsession is just the healthy interest of your everyday man-child. The movie goes out of its way to make Oswalt's family into obnoxious caricatures, and we're not supposed to like them because they think he needs to get a life, but guess what....his family seemed to me to make a lot of sense.
Pretty much the definition of a misfire.