If you’ve been following OK Confucius through its early stages, you know much of our output has concentrated on sports and art. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before we were writing about an intersection of the two…

Big Fan, starring Patton Oswalt and Michael Rapaport. Written and Directed by Robert D. Siegel.

What It’s About– New York Giants superfan Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt), already living a deadbeat life with his mother and working as a parking deck attendant, only seems to worsen after meeting and getting punched by his favorite player, fictional linebacker Quantrell Bishop. Dealing with his family, the ensuing investigation over the assault and his sports talk radio rivalry with Philadelphia Eagles superfan Philadelphia Phil (Michael Rapaport), it’s hard to decide whether Paul’s lowly world is adding weight or sinking even further.

Why We Missed It- “Big Fan” was written and directed by Robert D. Siegel, a former editor for “The Onion” who catapulted into films when he wrote Aronofksy’s “The Wrestler”. Given the success of that film, Siegel was bound to an easier path for whichever project he pursued next.

Even still, a project helmed by a first-time director is almost always a difficult venture to complete. Further, “Big Fan’s” premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival was practically concurrent with “The Wrestler’s” release and subsequent Oscar buzz. So a film authored by a rookie director, lacking the knowledge he would put Mickey Rourke within an inch of Best Actor when production started, was fated to have scarce resources.

Obviously, the intimate affair meant “Big Fan” would only reach the largest of cities theatrically and hope to catch more exposure on DVD. But beyond the lack of resources is the story, whose weight is too much to bear for Regal Cinemas.

Why We Should Watch It (Spoilers and Shit, etc.)- “Indie” films are released on a dime-a-dozen basis anymore, but the proliferation leads to differing classes. There are the off-the-beaten-path, “intense cinema” pictures which can be challenging and make an effort to convey the independent spirit, as it’s often called. There are also the quirky, niche kind of films that would like to break out of their shell and be commercial but can only be talked about “small hits” at best.

“Big Fan” and its misanthropic, almost mocking black humor, belongs in the former. The sports world, though emotionally charged, is in reality  very low-stakes. One can be devastated when their team loses but that person is still going into work the next day. Paul Aufiero has problems understanding this seeing his only commitment in life is to the Giants. He hates his mother, resents his sibling’s achievements and still commits to calling radio stations to smack talk in the middle of the night. So when his favorite player’s assault on him leads to suspension, a criminal investigation and a possible lawsuit, it’s both incredibly sad and laughable that Paul blames himself for interrupting the Giants’ chemistry. And when the smack from the much-hated rival Eagles finally gets under Paul’s skin, the subsequent final action and ending leaves a viewer wondering: do I sympathize with him, or do I hold burning contempt?

“Big Fan” is the anti-sports movie. Nobody is uplifted by victory and no squad of misfits learn the true meaning of friendship. If anything, it will make you question whether you invest too much into sports, and above all remind you to have something concrete in your life.

Go put it in your Netflix queue. Go for it.

Marc