The Fanatic (2019) Sept 10, 2019 19:48:36 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Sept 10, 2019 19:48:36 GMT -5
The Fanatic (2019)
Directed by: Fred Durst
Directed by: Fred Durst
John Travolta is Moose in The Fanatic.
If The Fanatic makes any kind of lasting statement, it's that John Travolta is at the stage of his career where he presumably won't turn down any role, regardless of how small or questionable it is. In the past few years, Travolta has went from a Hollywood A-lister to being a common face in schlocky, unceremonious features for the last few years, perhaps hitting the respective apex of his downturn with last year's much-maligned failure Gotti. Although other Travolta vehicles this year, such as Trading Paint and The Poison Rose, have been comparably labored and disappointing, none of these films might be able to inspire some of the guffaws and confusion that The Fanatic does for 81 fleeting minutes.
Travolta stars as an interesting character named "Moose," an autistic man with the cadence and attention-span of a young child. He exists as a denizen of Hollywood, with his only source of income playing a street-entertainer for tourists under the umbrella of a local scam artist. Moose, however, with his bowl cut, color-vomit shirts, khaki shorts, and moped for transportation, has a mission in mind: meet his all-time favorite cult action/horror movie star Hunter Dunbar (Devon Sawa). Dunbar is signing autographs at a local collectibles shop at which Moose is a frequent customer, and his excitement is brimming when the time comes to stand in line with the chance to meet his idol.
Moose is so dedicated to meet Dunbar that, prior to this, he attends a movie party where his favorite actor is sadly a no-show, leading him to be escorted out. It turns out, his second opportunity ends in an awful way too, with Moose overstepping his boundaries when Dunbar is in the middle of a confrontation with his ex-wife (Jessica Uberuaga) and son. After the disappointment wears off, Moose uses the resources of his (only) friend Leah (Ana Golja) to find Dunbar's residence, which leads to some "well-meaning" incidents of breaking-and-entering with Moose's ultimate goal being a picture and autograph with the actor.
Travolta gives it his all, in a complicated, inevitably controversial performance, and the result is decisively mixed. As a whole, it's a mostly solid performance in terms of Travolta striking the demeanor and impulsive reactions of someone on the severe side of the autism spectrum, but as a whole, it can't help but come off as distasteful given the context and Moose's eventual violent turn. Sawa is actually quite impressive as a real prick of a celebrity. If there's anything screenwriters Dave Bekerman and Fred Durst (also director) do well, it's letting the details of Dunbar's day-to-day life define him as a person. For instance, a moment with his housekeeper shows that Dunbar is just about as impetuous with his decision-making as Moose, an interesting observation in a film bogged down by misguided direction or a lack of imagination.
The Fanatic moves and feels like a lot was left on the cutting-room floor. At an ever-so slight 81 minutes, it can barely find an adequate rhythm to make Moose's evolution from kind-hearted, socially inept fan-boy to deranged fanatic progress believably. I'll be the first to admit I don't know what to make of the ending, for it's never clear whether we're expected to sympathize with Dunbar in lieu of Moose's gradual descent into madness, but the conclusion sends some very mixed messaging to the contrary.
Durst — a "sometimes director," better known as the frontman for the rock band Limp Bizkit — manages to do zilch for the formula at hand, negating to comment or pose a real look at the accessibility the common person has when it comes to the private life of a celebrity, from tabloid TV to TMZ to even apps that track their location and residences. Maybe focusing on that would sacrifice time that would ostensibly be better spent name-dropping Limp Bizkit, along with one of their songs, in a scene so cruelly forced, if you didn't know Durst's ties to the band, such a jarring, out-of-touch scene would fill in the blank alone.
Between the camerawork, the lighting, and other technical details, The Fanatic does look quite good, and Travolta, I must reiterate, does give a fine performance. Yet there's a lot more to this premise and the themes it inspires than what Bekerman and Durst clearly intended to present. The fact the film's title negates stopping at "The Fan" and essentially unrolls the latter half of that word begs a statement in its own right. It's a strong premise that could've been done justice with a stronger magnifying glass at the contemporary world not to mention considerably less hubris from its co-writer/director.
Starring: John Travolta, Devon Sawa, Ana Golja, Jacob Grodnik, James Paxton, and Jessica Uberuaga. Directed by: Fred Durst.