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With: John Travolta, Devon Sawa, Ana Golja, Jacob Grodnik, James Paxton, Josh Richman, Jessica Uberuaga, Marta González Rodin, Martin Peña, Kenneth Farmer, Elle Matarazzo
Written by: Dave Bekerman, Fred Durst
Directed by: Fred Durst
MPAA Rating: R for some strong violence, and language throughout
Running Time: 90
Date: 08/29/2019

The Fanatic (2019)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Stalk Treatment

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

John Travolta throws his whole being into an extreme, torrential performance that's difficult to dismiss, but it's unfortunately at the service of a shockingly mean, ugly, shallow attempt at a movie.

In The Fanatic, Moose (John Travolta), a horror movie fan who is on the autism spectrum, idolizes actor Hunter Dunbar (Devon Sawa). He works portraying an English bobby on Hollywood Blvd. and spends all his money at a movie memorabilia shop. One night, his friend Leah (Ana Golja) helps him crash a party that Hunter is supposed to be attending, but the actor is a no-show and Moose is rudely ejected.

Then, when Hunter appears for a book signing at the memorabilia shop, he disappears out the back, for personal reasons, just as Moose's turn comes. Leah shows Moose an app that locates stars' homes, and Moose begins secretly hanging out at Hunter's house, hoping to get some autographs and to get closer to his idol. But when Moose is discovered and rebuffed, it sets off a chain of violence that changes everything.

Directed and co-written by Fred Durst, the front man for the band Limp Bizkit, The Fanatic seems to be a poisonous form of revenge against any overzealous fans that may have once crossed his path. But rather than actually taking the time to explore the fan-celebrity relationship, to perhaps look into an emotional void and find some understanding for it, this movie simply attacks both sides of the equation.

While teetering on the edge of offensiveness, Moose is shown as childlike, but also invasive, an annoyance, and capable of striking out, yet — despite Travolta's intense labors in the role — none of these things is reconciled into an actual character. Durst seems to have more sympathy for Hunter; the character is shown to be a good father to his young son (except when he plays a Limp Bizkit song for him), although he's also selfish, entitled, and volatile. Both men pay a price for their encounter, and neither comes away having learned anything or benefitted in any way.

Then there's the Leah character, whose presence is not explained (and neither is her out-of-place voiceover narration). The Fanatic is a pointless sketch, stretched out to feature length with sheer anger and nastiness.

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