Casting a comic actor, in this case, Patton Oswalt, as the lead in a dramedy is high-risk. Moviegoers did not exactly warm to Seth Rogen in Observe & Report (which grossed only $25 million US, but must have something going for it since it was from Jody Hill, one of the bright minds behind Eastbound & Down) and, dating myself here, a lot of people we not ready for the Jim Carrey that they in The Cable Guy.
Not everyone's up for a movie which might creep people out as much as making them laugh. Then again, what is comedy if not pushing people's thresholds? By the sounds of what the movie nerds are saying, people expected lighter comedy when Big Fan was screened at Sundance.
"With Oswalt in the lead, most festival-goers were expecting a flat out comedy, but were shocked to find a dark dramedy. Big Fan is a character study much in the same vein of Siegel’s The Wrestler. It is a profile of an obsessed sports fanatic who has invested too much of himself into a past time. You might not like the twists and turns, and you probably won’t have any idea where this story will conclude, but you’ll walk out of it with an all new respect for Oswalt." — Peter Sciretta, /FilmFive other feature films about sports fans:
"This actually looks a lot better as a trailer than I remember it being. Siegel's writing may have been fine, but his directing was completely amateur (read my review). I may still give this another shot when it hits theaters to see if Siegel has tweaked it at all since Sundance. Anyway, give it a shot, I expect a few of you may end up liking this indie a lot." — Alex Billington, FirstShowing.net
" ... audiences at Sundance were amazed to see such a dark and dramatic performance from the comedian and the trailer below really gives us a sneak peek into what we can expect from both the actor and the director." — ScreenCrave
- Fever Pitch (1997). The good Brit adaptation of Nick Hornby's book, starring Colin Firth, positing that anyone who doesn't care about something at age 35 the same way they did at age 12 is in the wrong. "Maybe there's a big bit of you that's gone missing somewhere, maybe everyone should want something they've always wanted." Worth it alone for the melt of 1970s-vintage Arsenal footage. It's almost guaranteed that when that happens, you'll free-associate with moments from your own sports fan past. When Paul Ashworth harkens back to Frank McLintock, you might be picturing Roberto Alomar crushing a post-season homer off Dennis Eckersley.
- The Football Factory (2004). Gets right inside the culture of the firms, the organized group of club supporters in England whose fanaticism borders on illegality (that is a diplomatic way to put it).
- Rudy (1993). The real-life Rudy did become a player against million-to-one odds, but really, he was a fanboy first.
- Field of Dreams (1989). It's in here over the line delivered by James Earl Jones which might sum up why people go to games, "For it's money they have, and peace they lack." It's in despite a personal objection that this is, on the whole, pandering Boomer bathos (the dead giveaway being the casting of Timothy Busfield, then as now known as the "redheaded guy in thirtysomething."
- The Fan (1996). Steer clear. Robert De Niro at his scenery-chewing worst as a low-rent Travis Bickle out to help his favourite player, a brash, belligerent outfielder on the San Francisco Giants who in no way is intended to resemble Barry Bonds.