December 3, 2009 -- Fan is short for fanatic and that is what Paul Aufiero (played by Patton Oswalt of “The Informant!”) is about the New York Giants football team. He is a fairly one-dimensional guy who lives with his mother (played by Marcia Jean Kurtz of “Inside Man”) in Staten Island, New York. He works as a parking garage attendant and listens to sports radio talk shows during most of his waking hours. At night, he calls in to a radio talk show regularly, where he is known as “Staten Island Dan.” He regularly has verbal sparring matches with another fan known as “Philadelphia Phil.”
During the football season, Paul goes to the games with his buddy, Sal (Kevin Corrigan of “Pineapple Express”), but the two don't have enough money to buy tickets to the game, so they sit in a parking lot near the football stadium and watch the games on television. Sal admires Paul's ability to express himself on his radio rants. Paul claims these are spontaneous, but he actually writes down his comments in advance. Paul is harassed by his mother and the rest of his family, including his brother, Jeff (Gino Cafarelli of “The Good Shepherd”) an ambulance-chasing lawyer who married his artificially enhanced secretary, Gina (Serafina Fiore) after years of cheating on his wife. Paul and his mother argue about Jeff's lack of morality, while she defends him for one reason only, he makes a lot of money. Paul on the other hand isn't interested in money or women, he is only interested in the New York Giants. There is a kind of virtue in this dedication, but most people scorn him as a loser.
Paul gets his 15 minutes of fame when he and Sal spot Giants quarterback Quantrell Bishop (Jonathan Hamm) at a filling station, follow him to a Manhattan nightclub where they attempt to meet him and get his autograph. Things go well enough until Paul mistakenly lets Bishop know they have been following him. The drunken Bishop goes into a rage over what he perceives as stalking and he beats Paul to within an inch of his life. Paul wakes up three days later in the hospital with several injuries. Jeff sees this as the perfect opportunity for a lawsuit. Paul, ever the Giants fan, doesn't want to see the team's star quarterback go to jail, because that would ruin a very fine season. He claims he can't recall the attack, which stymies a criminal investigation headed by Detective Velarde (Matt Servitto of “Confessions of a Shopaholic”). Paul also refuses to sue Bishop, but Jeff files a suit anyway.
All of a sudden Paul is the center of attention. Newspaper reporters want interviews and Detective Velarde wants to ask him questions. The New York Giants season depends on what Paul does and says. Rather than milk the situation for fame and fortune, Paul avoids the press and refuses to do anything that isn't in the best interests of the Giants. He is a loyal fan, but his loyalty goes unrewarded. His one moment of fame, an on-air press conference, is spoiled when his mother gets on the line and tells him to go to bed and be quiet. This lets all the radio listeners know what a loser Paul is. He is universally scorned. Even worse, the Giants start losing and the hated Philadelphia team starts catching up. Philadelphia Phil is having a field day. Something has to be done. Paul can put up with anything, except the Giants on a losing streak. Paul is not a man of action, but he springs into action anyway, and the results are unexpected, to say the least.
There is a lot of humor in the film. The acting is also solid. Production values are adequate, consistent with a film shot on a low budget. Paul is a sad figure, but the edge is taken off this by his single-minded (some would say dim-witted) devotion to the Giants. He is an über-fan. As Thomas Carlyle once wrote: “The weakest living creature, by concentrating his powers on a single object, can accomplish something. The strongest, by dispensing his over many, may fail to accomplish anything.” Paul may end up bloodied and bruised. He may end up scorned and reviled. He may not have any money, or a home of his own, or a girlfriend, or a job, but he does have one thing to look forward to: next season. For Paul, that is enough. This film rates a B.
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