THE FANATIC (2019)

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Directed & Story By: Fred Durst
Written By: Fred Durst & Dave Bekerman
Cinematography: Conrad W. Hall
Editor: Malcolm Crowe & Nik Voytas 


Cast: John Travolta, Devon Sawa, Ana Golja, James Paxton, Marta Gonzalez Rodin 


The story is inspired by a real-life fan who pursued Limp Bizkit’s frontman Fred Durst many years ago, and the screenplay was written by Durst and Dave Bekerman. It follows Moose, who gets cheated out of meeting his favorite action hero, Hunter Dunbar. Moose then hunts down Dunbar to get the celebrity interaction he feels he deserves. Harmless at first, Moose’s actions begin to take a dark turn. Against the advice of his friend Leah, Moose begins to make frequent visits to his hero’s private home. As the visits continue to escalate, Dunbar finds himself in increasing danger.

This film is similar to THE JOKER outcasts seeking a comeuppance and films anchored by a central performance.

The film feels Like it’s a holdover from the 1980’s. Not that it would have been good then either. It you could understand the disappointing quality and blame it on the times. As this seems like a script held over from then. Even The scuzzy characters seem cliche or from films of a bygone era. As the film provides nothing that one would call subtle.

As you watch this movie you in the audience can’t tell if it’s awkward or just really cliche. As the story is familiar yet doesn’t paint anyone as innocent or decent but even still a few characters don’t deserve what they get.

John Travolta goes way over the top. To a condition that is a term that was used in TROPIC THUNDER. When describing Ben Stiller’s Performance in a movie going full mentally handicapped. So that you can call his performance here committed to a degree. It’s just too much and if he wanted to make an impact. It was needed in a much better film.

He gives an over the top performance. Which while his character is obviously mentally handicapped or authistic and constantly disruptive yet only half of the characters seems to recognize it acknowledge this.

While watching the film you can’t help but wonder what Nicolas Cage would have done with the role. As it seems Travolta’s performance one would think could save the film, but while it is center stage. It truly is the only reason to watch. As it seems to be the only thing about the film that is noteworthy.

Though that is the problem in itself. As maybe in earnest at first but throughout the film becomes More devoted as a spectacle to him. As they easily could have found a disabled actor to play the role, but let’s face it the only reason this film was made was because of the star power of John Travolta. Where watching his performance it becomes distracting because it feels uncomfortable and in bad taste.

We never get that much of a backstory on him Just a rather brief flashback that feels inspired by the same type of scene in THE CABLE GUY. As you also wonder what is his relationship exactly with the way too young looking paparazzi. As all she seems to add is voice overs that try to come across as wisdom and a constant friend for him to interact with. Not to mention why he chooses to play an English Bobby of all things on Hollywood blvd.

If not for having a big star in the central role this film could easily have disappeared and been forgotten. As it feels like the work of a novice. As even though Director Fred Durst has Directed a film before THE LONGSHOTS which while not great was ok. This film just fails on so many levels.

The director even plugs his own band Limp Bizkit on the soundtrack which truthfully is to be expected.

One element the film tries to subvert here is that while we get to know the object of Travlota’s obsession. The star played by Devon Sawa is pretty much a jerk. The film tries to give him some sympathy but for the most part overreacts and is just mean when he doesn’t have to. Especially when he is one of the characters who recognizes that Travolta is handicapped.

There is an irony of a member of the paparazzi inadvertently helping him onto his destructive path, but that also feels too on the nose and a kind of dig on them as usual.

As usual in these obsessive movies it tries to show both sides of the story. So to speak only the star is so unlikeable. Though the film does offer a particular kick from watching a star of John Travolta’s stature in real life stalking a lesser known actor as the star.

Here it seems like a series of events are begun more by accident then malicious but seems once to have crossed a line where there is No turning back.

The film almost feels like a high school movie production. In the way he gets picked on and finally starts to stand up for himself especially with his fellow Hollywood blvd entertainers acting more like bullies.

The third act goes into an interesting direction where it could have been the character seeking revenge and using the movies he obsesses over as inspiration for his violence and seeking it. And while there is a death it is accidental and unexpected. It is actually the only death and while the main character crosses the line. The murdered character is quickly forgotten about until a certain twist in the end that makes no sense.

Also the star character stays true to his portrayal as he is malicious himself in the end and let’s anger get the better of him before he makes an unbelievable decision. Which leaves the film having an ending that feels silly and random. Which leaves like a fairy tale where the cruel get what is coming to them yet not the guilty. Which feels like such lazy execution.

Not to mention showing the film was on the fanatic’s side all along. Which you the end you can see a bit why The film isn’t unwatchable but definitely uncomfortable especially in act one. Though by the end you wonder if Travolta is playing a character or a caricature of what him and the filmmakers believe a fan is when they become more extreme or fan boy culture.

GRADE: F

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