The FanAugust 16, 1996
An all star baseball player becomes the unhealthy focus of a down on his luck salesman.
Release Year: 1996
Rating: 5.6/10 (24,615 voted)
Critic's Score: 32/100
Stars: Robert De Niro, Wesley Snipes, Ellen Barkin
Three-times MVP baseball player Bobby Rayburn joins the San Francisco Giants, and obsessive fan, whose profession is selling hunting knives, Gil Renard is excited over that. But Rayburn plays the worst season of his career and Renard tries to do everything to help him, but goes too far.
Writers: Peter Abrahams, Phoef Sutton
Robert De Niro
Benicio Del Toro
(as Patti D'Arbanville-Quinn)
Andrew J. Ferchland
Leon, the Bartender
Don S. Davis
All baseball fans have a favorite player. This one has a favorite target.
Release Date: 16 August 1996
Filming Locations: Anaheim, California, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $6,271,406
(18 August 1996)
(10 November 1996)
Did You Know?
Wesley Snipes had previously played a fictional big league ballplayer in the first
Major League movie.
The San Francisco hat that Gil/Curly tries on (and ultimately keeps) whilst playing pool with Bobby Rayburn, is different to the hat worn in the following and final scenes.
Excited and anxious I await my dream / To escape, applaud, and embrace my team.
"Baseball Is Better Than Life, Because It's Fair…"
It may be true that everyone during their lifetime has fifteen minutes of
fame, even if in most cases it only lasts about a minute and a half. And if
that minute and a half comes early in life, how far into adulthood can you
carry it with you, and when does a healthy memory become an obsession that
finally blurs the line between reality and fantasy? `The Fan,' directed by
Tony Scott and starring Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes, is an intense and
disturbing motion picture that examines that moment and the effects it can
have on the lives of those either directly or indirectly involved. Here,
the focus is on one Gil Renard (De Niro), a knife salesman in San Francisco
and a die-hard Giants fan who is pumped about the acquisition during the
off-season of superstar centerfielder Bobby Rayburn (Snipes), whom he
believes will bring a pennant to the team. Once a player himself– a
pitcher– Renard's life has since been on a downhill slide. Divorced, he
has a young, little league aged son, Richie (Andrew J. Ferchland), with whom
he has an unsettling relationship, and at work, his sales have been so poor
his job is on the line. An angry, disturbed individual, Renard has reached
a pivotal point in his life; for inspiration, he continually returns to the
philosophies of the catcher from his playing days, Coop (Charles Hallahan),
whom he considers one of the finest athletes he ever knew. And as his life
continues to deteriorate, his obsessions begin to add further to the
imbalance of his perceptions of reality, which finally lead him past a point
of no return.
Scott's film, of course, has less to do with baseball than it does with how
the game itself actually relates to life and the things that really matter.
As Rayburn says at one point, `We're not curing cancer here.' But to those
to whom life has been reduced to that minute and a half to which they still
cling, the game can be everything. And it is just that unhealthy obsession
that Scott examines in this film, that comparatively insignificant moment
that in the obsessive mind becomes an episode of monumental importance that
finally distorts any semblance of reality the individual may have left.
What's truly frightening is that upon close scrutiny, in Renard there is
much with which many viewers will be able to relate in one way or another:
The anger, the frustration and perhaps the inability to let go of that
minute and a half, even when it threatens to become more than just a
pleasant memory, but an unhealthy lifeline to another place and another time
that, in reality, may never have existed in the first place. It's like a
search for self-esteem by the has-been-who-never-was, who can neither
realize nor accept it's elusiveness. As Renard says to Richie, `Baseball is
better than life, because it's fair. You hit a sacrifice fly and it doesn't
count against your average.' An ideal that has forever eluded Renard; in
his life, he's never been able to `give himself up for the team' and get
anything in return for it.
As Renard, De Niro gives an explosive performance that at first glance may
seem to have a bit of Travis Bickle and Max Cady in it– which in fact it
does– though upon closer inspection, Renard is a unique character. Those
with a disturbed mind may have traits in common, as these characters De Niro
has portrayed certainly do; but De Niro has successfully given each of them
an individual personality, and when viewed side by side, the differences are
readily apparent. Bickle may be a sociopath, Cady a cold blooded killer;
but Renard is a man who was just never able to get a handle on his life and
has allowed his obsessions to dictate the choices he has made along the way.
De Niro is simply a master of his craft, with the ability to make his
characters so real that a performance like this one is often overlooked;
this is Oscar worthy work for which he never received the acclaim he was
due. His Renard is so like someone you would run into in your everyday life
that in retrospect, it's scary. But it's the kind of performance we've come
to expect from De Niro, and as usual, he does not disappoint.
Wesley Snipes, as well, gives a solid performance as Rayburn that is one of
his best ever, which is not surprising when you consider with whom he was
working. If you study De Niro's films, you may discover a common thread
running through them with regard to his co-stars. De Niro has the ability
to make those with whom he is working better; and it's something that stays
with them forever after. Consider Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep
before `The Deer Hunter,' or Ed Harris before `Jacknife.' Certainly they
were exceptional talents before, but they have arguably been better since.
And Snipes is no exception. Nor is Benicio Del Toro (Recipient of the Oscar
for Best Supporting Actor for `Traffic'), who gives a memorable turn here as
Rayburn's rival outfielder, Juan Primo.
The supporting cast includes Patti D'Arbanville (Ellen),Ellen Barkin
(Jewel), John Leguizamo (Manny), Chris Mulkey (Tim), Dan Butler (Garrity)
and Brandon Hammond (Sean). A thought provoking thriller that gives some
real insight into the cause and effect of the psyche of human nature, `The
Fan' is like an open wound that may hit too close to home for some. And to
dismiss this as just a `baseball' movie or another `action' flick would be a
mistake, for there is much more here than meets the eye. In the end, those
who pay attention will ultimately reap the rewards it proffers. I rate this