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View Full Version : Patton Oswalt, Robin Williams with August dark comedy double-header


Cosmic Bus
06-22-09, 12:45 AM
I'm very, very psyched for Big Fan; somewhat less so for Greatest Dad, and most of that hesitation comes from Williams' involvement. Over the past fifteen years or so, he's only been worth seeing in occasional "odd" projects, so this is certainly territory with potential.

http://i41.tinypic.com/2a64i2x.jpg

Red-band trailer (http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=56450)

http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/reviews/sundance-review-worlds-greatest-dad.php
Do you like dark comedies? I certainly do. There are times when I love my comedy to be blacker than black, morbid as all hell and as sick and twisted as possible. That said, I have found my new love at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival: Bobcat Goldthwait’s World’s Greatest Dad. You may not be aware, but director Bobcat Goldthwait’s directorial debut Sleeping Dogs Lie premiered here in Park City in 2006. That movie was originally titled Stay and it involved a woman giving fellatio to a dog. If that isn’t pretty sick and twisted, I don’t know what is. And if you can believe it, World’s Greatest Dad takes it to another level entirely. Seriously, it’s a pretty wild experience.

It stars Robin Williams as Lance Clayton, a high school poetry teacher who once dreamed of being a rich and famous writer. Unfortunately for him, his greatest achievement in life appears to be the production of his son Kyle, played by Daryl Sabara. Even more unfortunate is the fact that Kyle is an insufferable little asshole who treats his father like dirt and spends his free time watching porn and finding new and creative ways to masturbate. On the upside, Lance does have a pretty steamy affair going with a much younger, quite attractive art teacher named Claire, played by Alexie Gilmore. When an unfortunate accident leaves Lance without his son, he turns tragedy into opportunity through a series of unthinkable acts. Suddenly faced with potential fame and fortune, he is forced to decide whether or not he can actually live with what he’s done.

With his second feature film, Goldthwait has concocted a story that has the spirit of Heathers, but feels like something that might have sprouted from the devious mind of Chuck Palahniuk. Under the surface of sharp dialog and twisted moments, this is a pretty honest and thoughtful story about loneliness and the things that truly make us happy. But lets not concern ourselves so much with peeling back layers, as there is plenty to love right on the surface. On said surface, this film is dark — really, really dark. It is the type of movie that your average Hollywood studio wouldn’t dare make, the type of film that won’t speak to anyone. But if you are that right kind of person — including, but not limited to bearded movie geeks at Sundance — you are going to laugh your ass off, plain and simple. It is outrageous, divisive and incredibly well executed.

This movie also speaks well to the hardcore movie geek. From the Santa Claus Conquers the Martians poster in Lance’s home to the recurring discussion topic of zombie movies — including a well-placed call out to Simon Pegg’s theory of zombie speed relativity — this movie is filled with subtle geek out moments that prove an attention to detail that is characteristic of a filmmaker who puts a lot of love into his film. Of course, he’s made a winner by putting a lot of other stuff in there as well, including countless memorable bits of lewd dialog, all delivered perfectly by young Daryl Sabara. It is hard to believe that the little kid from Spy Kids should have such a potty mouth. Robin Williams is also great in a role that feels unlike anything he’s ever done before. He is funny, but in a subtle and twisted way. He also holds some of the film’s serious moments together quite well.

In the end, it would appear that World’s Greatest Dad has earned itself a spot atop my list of favorites from this year’s fest. And with another four days of movies to be seen, I am still confident that it will remain near the top until the end. I can’t remember a time — especially not during this year’s fest — when I’ve laughed this hard for this long. Kudos to Mr. Goldthwait for not compromising and making a outrageously dark comedy with some serious gravitas.

Grade: A

Opens August 21st.

http://i44.tinypic.com/2rr5bt2.jpg

http://www.chud.com/articles/articles/17924/1/SUNDANCE-REVIEW-BIG-FAN/Page1.html
Holy shit, Big Fan. I've been running around calling it the Taxi Driver of sports comedies, which doesn't really do it justice, for while the film is funny it's not actually a comedy. In fact Big Fan is one of the most tense, nerve-wracking and nail-biting films I've seen in quite some time. An examination of everyday insanity and obsession, it's a movie that is on the surface about hardcore sports fans but really talks about all the ways in which we prostrate ourselves before our objects of adoration as well as project ourselves onto them. .

Patton Oswalt is Paul Aufiero, a 36 year old guy who lives at home with his mother, works as an attendant at a parking garage, sleeps under NFL sheets and whose daily bright spot is calling into a sports talk radio show. A die-hard Giants fan, Paul spends his work shift writing out the bon mots and barbed arrows he'll sling at fans of other teams during his nightly call in to the Sports Dog show, and he saves many of his most vicious rejoinders for Philly Phil, an Eagles fan who calls in to the New York local station just to piss off the fans.

Paul's one of those sports fans who believes he has some impact on the game. He and his friend Sal go to every Giants home game, even though they just watch on a portable TV in the parking lot. The important thing is that they're present, lending some of their magic to the team. Ironically, Paul does have an impact on the Giants' season when he and Sal follow quarterback Quantrell Bishop to a strip club and, after a misunderstanding, the QB beats Paul into a coma. Bishop is benched during the police investigation and Paul finds himself stonewalling the cops so that his favorite player can get back on the field and deliver the season. And things just get darker from there as Paul slowly spirals out of control.

When Paul comes out of his (brief) coma, he asks what day it is. When he finds out that it's Tuesday all he wants to know is how 'we' did over the weekend. For some people this will be the point where the film loses them, but for me it's the point where I got where Siegel was going. Siegel understands that Paul's obsessions are more than skin deep - he's not just interested in the Giants, he lives them. It's not hard to imagine a die-hard movie geek choosing not to press charges against Christopher Nolan after a traffic accident if it meant the Dark Knight sequel would be in jeopardy. The details of Paul's obsessions are different, but nerds will recognize the bigger picture of what it means to be this obsessed.

The world of the call in radio show also reminded me of a message board; there are the rivalries, the callers who have made names for themselves and the feeling of imporantance of getting your voice heard - in this case very literally. It's a familiar world but strange at the same time, and I like the way that Siegel gives it depth and approaches it with compassion. He also approaches Paul with a certain level of compassion - the jokes about him are obvious (at one point his mother confronts him about his masturbation habits. The scene plays out as hilarious and uncomfortable but never with Paul feeling like the butt of a joke) but Siegel's not interested in making him a clown. And Patton Oswalt does an amazing job of finding the right tone for Paul. He never lets the character off the hook and never hides that he's a sad, lonesome, pathetic guy, but at the same time he allows us to like him. So much so that, as the film heads into the third act and Paul seems to be really going off the rails I felt almost sick with worry about what he would do next.

It's that third act that raises Big Fan from good to great; Siegel builds tension like he was making a thriller, and the climactic moments are real edge of your seat filmmaking. It's amazing that the film can keep ratcheting up the tension and the awkwardness (but not generally in a comedy of awkwardness way, like The Office) and then still deliver a climax so jaw droppingly good. Siegel more than proved himself as a writer with The Wrestler (which had similarly funny but not comedic elements and a basic soft spot for the foibles of its lead character. And also featured a sports star and a strip club!), and with Big Fan he shows that he has a serious career as a director ahead of him. This film is almost no-budget, so it'll be exciting to see what he does with more money in the future.

9 out of 10

No trailer yet for this one, but you can listen to an interview (http://hollywoodpodcast.com/wp/podpress_trac/web/344/0/Sundance_2009_-__Big_Fan__-_Robert_Siegel__Patton_Oswalt.mp3) with Robert Siegel and Patton Oswalt. Opens August 28th.

FinkPish
06-22-09, 12:56 AM
World's Greatest Dad thread already started here, but we could use a Big Fan thread: http://forum.dvdtalk.com/movie-talk/556982-worlds-greatest-dad-goldthwait-2009-robin-williams-dark-comedy.html

Rypro 525
06-22-09, 03:24 AM
Big fan (pun intended) of Patton Oswalt (love his stand up), so if it comes near me, i will be sure to see it.

RagingBull80
06-22-09, 11:17 AM
Huge Patton Oswalt fan here. I've been waiting to see Big Fan for a while now. I meant to ask him about it when I saw him some months back but I forgot. If this comes anywhere near here (it probably won't) I'll be there to see it.

Travis McClain
06-22-09, 11:33 AM
Big Fan sounds interesting. World's Greatest Dad, not so much. Robin Williams hasn't entertained me much over the years, and the premise just doesn't sound like something that I would enjoy.

NoirFan
07-06-09, 07:21 PM
Big Fan trailer (http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1810057586/video/14347462)

ruddiger_718
07-06-09, 09:20 PM
That was a great trailer. Big Fan has now risen to my most anticipated movie with Where The Wild Things Are

story
07-06-09, 11:05 PM
Thanks for getting Big Fan on my radar screen. Loved The Wrestler and this looks great.

RagingBull80
07-06-09, 11:16 PM
Wow to the Big Fan trailer. Wow.

Drexl
07-07-09, 12:53 AM
Big Fan looks good, but is it really a comedy?

Crocker Jarmen
07-07-09, 01:19 AM
Why does the quoted reviewer refer to WGD as Goldthwait's second directorial effort? Has the world forgotten about Shakes the Clown already?

DJLinus
08-21-09, 02:01 PM
Big Fan looks good, but is it really a comedy?

I just listened to an interview (http://www.maximumfun.org/sound-young-america/rob-siegel-interview-sound-young-america) with the writer/director and he characterized it as a drama with dark comedic touches.

But the thought of Oswalt playing someone obsessed with sports makes me laugh. :lol: In the above interview the director said Oswalt just channeled his comic book fandom and other passions into the role, which makes sense.

Official site: http://www.bigfanmovie.com/

I really hope this gets released near me (but I'm doubting it will).

Lastdaysofrain
08-21-09, 02:08 PM
having seen both, WGD is better than Big Fan. I hear you on the Robin Williams hesitation but he's great the movie is given a discredit by it's summary. It's very good

Achtung
08-21-09, 11:43 PM
Heard an interview with Oswalt and Siegel on NPR. Sounds like he really wanted Oswalt as the "loser obsessed with his sports team", which I guess is a bit insulting, but I can really see him playing that role well. Looks like a good movie for any of us who love our sports.

Rypro 525
08-22-09, 12:45 AM
I really hope this gets released near me (but I'm doubting it will).

eh, i noticed its going to be playing at the Charles in baltimore (its listed on their 'coming soon' section of their page. hopefully WGD comes to either that theater or the one of the Landmark theaters. speak of the devil, sept 4 at the landmark e street theater in DC

DJLinus
08-22-09, 09:50 AM
eh, i noticed its going to be playing at the Charles in baltimore (its listed on their 'coming soon' section of their page. hopefully WGD comes to either that theater or the one of the Landmark theaters. speak of the devil, sept 4 at the landmark e street theater in DC

Whoa! Looks like the official site added theaters and more cities since I posted the link here yesterday. Still no Richmond, though. We have one art house theater (with 2 screens) that definitely would show this and another larger theater that could show it. Here's hoping it comes to one of those.

I suppose if it's not announced by early September, I could kill two birds with one stone and visit my friend in DC. Or I'll just wait for the DVD. *sigh*

At least Oswalt's new stand-up DVD will tide me over when it comes out this week.

Cosmic Bus
08-22-09, 10:44 AM
having seen both, WGD is better than Big Fan. I hear you on the Robin Williams hesitation but he's great the movie is given a discredit by it's summary. It's very good

I still have high hopes for Big Fan, but thought WGD consisted of about 30 minutes of quality, dark dramedy and an hour of unfunny, ineffective, banal dreck only buoyed slightly by the performances of two supporting actors (Kyle's friend Andrew and Lance's neighbor). Tremendously disappointing.