STARRED REVIEW
January 2015

Film junkie

Review by
Patton Oswalt’s career has ranged from earnest stand-up comedy to material that requires an encyclopedic knowledge of popular culture to simply follow along. In Silver Screen Fiend: Learning about Life from an Addiction to Film, he describes how a lifelong love of cinema led him from hubris to humility and back on more than one occasion.
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Patton Oswalt’s career has ranged from earnest stand-up comedy to material that requires an encyclopedic knowledge of popular culture to simply follow along. In Silver Screen Fiend: Learning about Life from an Addiction to Film, he describes how a lifelong love of cinema led him from hubris to humility and back on more than one occasion.

Moving to the West Coast to pursue a stand-up career, Oswalt ends up in Los Angeles, writing for television and complaining about his cushy job. When he’s not there or onstage, he’s hunkered down in an old theater, watching movies and telling himself it’s all research for an eventual career as a director. Instead, he gets work in movies and TV and continues to hone his stage material, and finally notices that’s not such a bad life after all.

Silver Screen Fiend is funny, but more for Oswalt’s connect-the-dots streams of consciousness than any straightforward jokes. Many stories hinge on his behaving like an entitled ass and then learning his lesson, but the know-it-all tone still dominates. Has he really learned? Or is the tension between feeling like both the smartest guy in the room and the weakest link the engine that drives great comedy? When Oswalt breaks his film addiction and comes blinking back into the light, it’s with an awareness that real life has been passing him by while he was at the movies. Still a film junkie, he now manages to find time for things like marriage, family and reality.

Oswalt writes in a foreword, “This will be either the most interesting or the most boring addiction memoir you’ve ever read.” Fans of his skewed take on the world will scarf up Silver Screen Fiend like a tub of popcorn at a Saturday matinee.

 

This article was originally published in the January 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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