Directed By Fred Durst
Starring – John Travolta, Devon Sawa, Ana Golja
The Plot – The story is inspired by a real-life fan who pursued Limp Bizkit’s frontman Fred Durst many years ago. It follows Moose (Travolta), who gets cheated out of meeting his favorite action hero, Hunter Dunbar (Sawa). 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 (Golja), Moose begins to make frequent visits to his hero’s private home. As the visits continue to escalate, Dunbar finds himself in increasing danger.
Rated R for some strong violence, and adult language throughout
– Travolta’s commitment. John has very little to work with here psychologically, but the physical consistency of a stilted walking pattern, as well as speech patterns that accurately articulate those of a mentally unstable man-child, made his performance stand-out as one of the very few positives that you can pull from “The Fanatic”. I have read other critics challenging the sharpness of his acting, but actually Travolta is completely on-par for what is asked of his character. It’s really everything else surrounding him that shortens his growth, and allows him very few chances to make this convincingly effective in dramatic territory.
– So bad it’s good. Yep, it’s one of those films where you get a bunch of friends together, have some drinks, and completely rip this film to shreds in a delightful night of laughs. This reason alone is why I could never give this movie my lowest rating, because at least from a horribly entertaining circumstance, it’s probably the best that big screen cinema have seen since “The Room” broke all of the rules for what can be defined as a hit in Hollywood. Would I ever watch this movie again? Absolutely. It has strong replay value with the more people you pull into it, and whether intentional or not, Durst has earned himself a bronze bust in the hall of Tommy Wiseau filmmaking.
– Directionless Durst. Fred has helmed other big screen films before, so his lack of instinct and urgency given to this picture is one that really confuses me, and condemns this movie long before it ever has a chance to appeal to its audience. For one, his character framing is horrendous, leaving us without a side to truly invest in. For Moose, his condition and love of horror movies is really the only thing we ever find out about him. From a personality positioning, he’s a full-fledged stalker, who audibly abuses his friends, and constantly pushes the envelope to see what he can attain selfishly. His opposition comes in the form of Sawa’s movie star, who is downright detestable for how he treats fans. If this is based off of Durst’s own experiences, shouldn’t he at the very least pick a side to determine who is right in a series of many bonehead decisions? Beyond this, the movie’s lack of suspense or frights leaves it feeling so far out of the box of its genre classification. It hurts most of all that there are no shortage of scenes that drown on too long, and never conjoin to the next to keep the ball of momentum rolling to peak our interests. This is one of those films that shows how important a director truly is to the finished product, and even a halfway capable one would’ve known that these scenes and pacing deserved to sit on the shelf for at least another two months of post-production.
– Cheap production. Speaking of production, the visual presentation that we are treated to is one that reeks of penny-pinching cinema. From the incorrect frame rates being displayed during slow motion sequences, to the choppy editing, to the artificial lighting that displays some visually disgusting color coordination choices, this film is a visual nightmare of squinting renderings. I really understood what was coming during the initial first minute of the movie, when we usually get one or two production companies to showcase the consistency of hands on-deck, but here we get 58 whole seconds of no fewer than seven different production companies. This is usually a bad sign when you already alienate an audience wanting to get to the beginning of the film, and make clutter them with a barrage of names and companies that only hardcore film fans truly care about. Finally, there are the strange choices in artistic animation that play during pivotal moments throughout the film. Since they only repeat the scene we previously just saw, I don’t understand the meaning behind their inclusion, nor do I feel even remotely impressed by what they bring to the artistic merit of the picture. I personally feel like it’s more run time padding, which I will get to later in further detail.
– Unnecessary narration. To anyone who knows me, you know I despise pointless narration in movies, mainly because it offers nothing of substance to justify its existence, and that’s definitely the case here. As read by Golja’s barely supporting character, she comes in during four different times in the film, and in her hip-to-be-cool emotion, basically only highlights what the previous scene already told us. Here’s a fun idea; remove her narration entirely from the film, and see what you lose in the process. Even with the importance minimal in this category, I could’ve at least understood if it were Moose talking through it. Then, at least we would get a chance at learning more about the man behind the mayhem, but we are bored to tears by a character that the film doesn’t take any time to know beyond her being a photographer and friend to Moose. It would be the equivalent of making Farmer Fred the narrator in “The Waterboy”, which creates an entirely new list of problems that I don’t even want to think about.
– Leaps in logic. Plenty to unload here. Character’s driving by in a car looking at a character in the exact same spot despite the moving of the vehicle, incompetent use of cellular phones, and the absolute dumbest police officers that I have ever seen in cinema history. The latter really has to do with the movie’s finale, so I will get to that later, but Durst seems to lack even the smallest shred of logic to invest into his picture, making for some unintentionally hilarious scenes that once again do the film no favors for its already minimal tension hanging in the balance. Beyond the ones I already mentioned, there is a lack of continuity between cuts taking place in the same moment. For instance, Golja’s character is holding her phone high in one scene, then after a quick cut to Travolta’s perspective to replicate the same discussion in the scene from a different angle, it’s closer to the table. I’m not fooling anyone by saying that no care or attention was given to this film. If there was, then these instances of gut-busting delight would never make it on camera. More than a director, this film needs a realist.
– Bumbling dialogue. Easily the worst dialogue that I have heard in a film so far this year. In fact, you could remove all dialogue in this film all together, make it a silent Charlie Chaplin picture, and you would still understand everything that is developing, because of the visuals. There’s nothing of substantial depth or human-like believability that cements these conversations as authentic. I would be a lot angrier about it if some of the lines weren’t so damn funny. For instance, how a mentally handicap protagonist and his photographer friend continue to call celebrities “CelebRETARDS”, or “Los Angeles, I call it the city of bullshitters”, read to us by Golja’s tortured Sunset Strip enthusiast, or even our introduction to Travolta’s character, in which he mumbles “I can’t talk too long, I gotta poo”. Shakespeare, bow down and praise the new lingual lion-heart of the English language, Fred “Did it all for the nookie” Durst.
– Insensitivity. What makes this movie deplorable to me, and almost completely irredeemable, is its lack of responsibility with the subject matter of an autistic protagonist, that it could’ve used to enhance awareness on, but drops with a complete lack of compassion. First of all, his name is Moose. That by itself should elicit the necessary groans to show you where this film is going, but Moose is a bumbling idiot who is manipulated, humiliated, and stereotyped in a way that makes “Simon Birch” suddenly feel wholesome by comparison. What’s even more baffling is the fact that Travolta himself even has an autistic son in real life, so how is any of this low-hanging fruit acceptable from his parental standards? Then there’s Durst, who uses a real life condition like Autism to justify fandom in a way that many films like “The Fan” or “Big Fan” does humanly and respectably. Moose has a condition, but its necessity is only used as a justifiable mechanism, and it’s an irresponsible stance that crashes the moral compass of this movie during the opening scenes.
– That one scene. If I had to pick my least favorite scene in a movie this year, it would be in “The Fanatic”, where a father and son discuss how awesome and heavy Limp Bizkit is while jamming out to the band in their car. I speak of shameful product placement all the time, but when it’s the actual lead singer of the band who directs the film that said scene takes place in, it takes the limits to a whole new level. What’s strange is how the scene really has no sound reasoning for existing other than to be a commercial for shitty nu-metal music that lasted longer in the public eye than it rightfully should have. It halts the movie’s progress for forty whole seconds to cradle Fred’s egotistical boner, and makes Kirk Cameron look like a thespian in movies where his name is part of the title.
– The ending. There’s a lot of reasons why this ending doesn’t work for me, but lets start with the lack of closure itself. The film ends anti-climatically with ridiculous consequences for one character, who would easily establish himself as innocent if he would just speak up and tell the police what happened. The cops themselves are severely stupid because after surveying the whole area, they manage to somehow pin everything on a character who had absolutely nothing to do with it. In addition to this, the guilty party took pictures on his Twitter that would increment him in any courtroom in America, but we’re supposed to shut our minds off and believe the mindless mush that this movie is feeding us. In addition to this, the credits, complete with same order and texture, are repeated from the film’s intro, no doubt in an effort to pad the run time to reach minimal big screen run time acceptability. It was confusing, it was drawn-out, and it was illogical. Basically summarizing everything that came before it.
My Grade: 2/10 or F-