REVIEW: “The Fanatic” (2019)

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Remember Tony Scott’s 1996 psychological thriller “The Fan”? Robert De Niro played a rabid San Francisco Giants fan obsessed with their star outfielder played by Wesley Snipes. You could hardly call it a great movie yet it’s one that at least knows its bat crazy. For that reason it’s a movie I tend to enjoy despite its glaring absurdity. I can’t say the same for “The Fanatic”.

Former Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst (yes that Fred Durst) conceived the story, co-wrote the screenplay, and directs this uncomfortably ugly and seemingly pointless look at celebrity obsession. Along the way it dabbles in some toothless black humor (I think), fails to generate an ounce of tension, and features a cringe-worthy portrayal of autism/mental health, linking it to this twisted stalker mentality without any real distinction. I think Durst is trying to say society collectively is to blame but it’s really hard to glean much from this mess.

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John Travolta plays an autistic street performer in Los Angeles named Moose. He is a huge fan of horror movies and he particularly loves the films of Hunter Dunbar (Devon Sawa). In fact you could say he is a little (say it with me) obsessed. Moose collects celebrity autographs and getting one from Hunter Dunbar would be the top prize of his collection. But every attempt has blown up in his face.

The film goes to great lengths to show the bad hand life has dealt Moose. His street acting gig is going nowhere. He’s constantly bullied by a punk street illusionist. And he’s trashed by his idol once he finally gets to meet him. His one-and-only friend is a well-meaning paparazzi photographer (Ana Golja) who naively does more to fuel his obsessive behavior than quell it.

By now I’m sure you can see where this is going. Moose snaps and takes his fan-love for Dunbar to creepy, compulsive, pathological places. It’s here that the already laboring script completely falls apart. The haphazard final act is utterly ridiculous and full of head-scratching turns and unsightly violence that seems yanked out of thin air. Good luck making sense of any of it.

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To be fair Travolta attacks the role with every bit of authenticity he can muster. The hideous haircut and loud patterned shirts do him no favors, but it’s not a mean-spirited portrayal. It’s simply a misguided one that really has nothing of value to say. But that’s not as much Travolta’s fault as it is the script. His commitment to the performance is unquestioned, but the entire movie feels off-target starting with Moose’s very first line of eye-rolling dialogue “I can’t talk too long. I gotta poo.”

“The Fanatic” takes a little from “The Fan”, a little from “Misery”, and even a dash of “Reservoir Dogs” but none of it makes for a particularly good movie experience. On one hand it’s kind of entrancing watching Travolta wrestle with such a rudderless story. On the other hand you would be much better served by taking my word for it rather than losing the 88 minutes that you’ll never get back.

VERDICT – 1.5 STARS

1-5-stars

25 thoughts on “REVIEW: “The Fanatic” (2019)

  1. Can’t comment for long, I gotta poo — but I will say, John Travolta has fallen and can’t get up. Between this and Gotti I don’t think this guy’s making it back to quality mainstream films. You mentioned Reservoir Dogs at the end. It’s actually quite stunning to think he was at one point in a Tarantino movie, and one of his seminal works no less. Oy vey

    • HA! I think you’re right. I can’t see Travolta getting yet another career revival. This is a low point for sure. It’s unfortunate too because it is an extremely committed performance. Still that can’t save this dead duck.

  2. Ouch. This might be the lowest rated review I’ve ever seen on your blog. I’m happy to take your advice and steer clear. I had to google Fred Durst. Surprised to see that he directed The Longshots. Cute movie with a young Keke Palmer and an (unsurprisingly) grumpy Ice Cube.

    • Yep steer clear. There’s really nothing of value here. There are a few reviews with lower scores on the site. But the good thing about not getting paid for doing this is that I can steer clear of movies I want no part of. LOL.

  3. I do remember The Fan. It’s an OK film but definitely had some nice moments and inspired usage of remixes of NIN’s “Closer” as Tony Scott would use their music again for Man on Fire as it’s why I love Tony Scott. He’s a NIN fan.

    Utter the words Fred Durst or Limp Bizkit to NIN fans and… you’re going to get fucked up real bad. That’s a band we fans hate and Fred is someone that is in our enemies list as he’s said some shit about Trent Reznor and NIN back in late 1999/early 2000s and ended up looking even more of a dumb-fuck than he actually is. Nowadays, Limp Bizkit are essentially irrelevant (except for the MAGA and frat-boy crowd) while NIN can still do great shows in sizeable venues and still put out great new music. NIN gets the last laugh.

    Now to Durst as a director and I’ve seen his other 2 features and… they’re not bad. They’re actually OK. Mainly because he didn’t write them nor had any involvement in the writing which is probably why they’re watchable though mediocre at best. I’m not entirely surprised by the reviews for this film mainly because I read a scene of Devon Sawa’s character trying to tell his kid how great Limp Bizkit were (like they even made good music back then) is proof that Fat Freddy Durst still think his band mattered (to morons and assholes). That’s just vanity at its worst. Then there’s Travolta as let’s be honest, he’s definitely fallen hard and is not likely he will ever make a comeback. Especially as he’s just coasting on his past glories while being in denial for the fact that he’s really gay. There’s an element of vanity in what he’s trying to do as him sporting a wig and acting like he’s autistic is him saying “look at me, I’m acting!”. I think he’s been spending too much time with Xenu.

    • Let me tell you, that scene where Sawa puts on Limp Bizkit for his son is just terrible. It’s so lame and blatantly obvious. I just shook my head. Soooooooo bad.

      • And to think, they’re the only “rock” band to sell a million copies in an entire week back in 2000 in the year where ‘Nsync, Eminem, Britney Spears, and the Backstreet Boys also sold more than million in their first week.

        Of course, those 4 are still interesting and their music actually holds up in comparison to Limp Bizkit as that album they put out is one of the worst records ever made.

        At least Trent made some money from that title track which used “Closer” for part of the diss track so ha-ha!!!!!

      • You know something. It’s not my thing either. I hated a lot of the music that was around then as I was more into Radiohead and art rock at the time. Nowadays, I would for some reason find myself humming or singing along to those songs. Personally, I’d rather have them than the shitty music that is out there right now.

  4. I saw this pop up on my list that I get from movie sites .But as soon as I saw Durst attached to this, I completely checked out. I couldn’t stand Limp Bizkit, so I figured if Durst was the creative mind behind this, didn’t want to waste my time. From your view, I guess I was wise to skip this.

    • Very wise. There is a fairly good idea but its so poorly conceived and hollow from start to finish. I couldn’t possible recommend this thing. Save your time my friend.

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