Once upon a time, there lived a fisherman. Or, rather, a man who fished, unprofessionally but very often; an addicted man in fact, a man obsessed, whose only waking thought is of where his next line will come from. A man whose obsession with all things piscine drives his son insane, and destroys his family.
Thus begins Fanatyk, a 2017 Polish short film directed by Michal Tylka. The film is a 33 minute featurette, based on arguably the most famous ‘copypasta’ on the Polish side of the internet. Commonly referred to by its first line, “Mój stary to fanatyk wędkarstwa”, translated as “my old man is a fishing fanatic”, is a story written by a user known only as ‘Malcolm XD’ and originally published, well, somewhere. Dubious origins are characteristic of ‘copypastas’ such as this, although my research in this specific case was admittedly limited by the fact that I can’t speak Polish. A ‘copypasta’, if you aren’t familiar with the term, is a popular internet story posted somewhere - often on popular sites like 4chan or Reddit - and ‘copied’ and ‘pasted’ again and again for comedic value, with slight edits here and there. The etymology is clear.
The film itself follows the original story quite closely, that of a son slowly driven mad by his dad’s fanatic fishing.
The house fills up with discarded hooks and magazines that bankrupt the family. His father gets into regular fights with his fishing buddies about whether carp are better than catfish.
They eat fish every day – that’s the only reason you got into college, his dad says. These scenes are interspersed with the son’s narration, verbatim from the original text. It’s genuinely quite a funny, well-paced comedy, and the main cast manage to sell the subject matter with just the right amount of sincerity. It’s the seriousness with which they handle the story that makes it funny – if it were any goofier, I don’t think it would have landed quite as well. The Polish sense of humour probably has something to do with that.
Fanatyk is currently streaming on UK Netflix, and at the low temporal cost of 33 minutes it fits almost perfectly into a single ‘pomodoro’ of your exam season studies. I also recommend finding an English translation of the original copypasta, if you aren’t Polish.