Is John Travolta okay? I know he’s been a bit on the big brain with all of that Scientology nonsense, but now I’m worried in regards to both his acting career and personal well-being. Was this some cry of help? What happened with this movie? Why?
The Fanatic is a 2019 American psychological thriller directed and co-written by Fred Durst (Yes frontman of the rap-rock band Limp Bizkit) and stars John Travolta. A rabid film fan stalks his favorite action hero and destroys the star’s life.
If the initial statement indicates anything, this movie can be best summarized as bizarre. Travolta’s appearance and portrayal of an autistic character are bound to get many raised eyebrows for all of the right reasons. For what has been marketed as a thriller, this is one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time. In the same realm of other movies like The Room and Birdemic, this movie is so bad to the point of being comedic.
Before I get into everything this movie does wrong, I’ll say that this movie isn’t completely irredeemable. A few decently executed moments show Durst’s intentions in exploring the toxic nature of celebrity worship (Though other movies like The King of Comedy and Misery did this concept far, far better) that are conveyed through visual storytelling. I actually genuinely appreciated these moments and would have been more than thrilled to see these make up the whole of this movie.
And for what’s it worth, I think that Travolta really did try to make this character work. I do kinda love that this is very much an out-there type of role for someone like him, and he clearly is dedicated to his craft here. Now, does it actually work? Not really, but that’s not his fault, far from it.
No, that’s the fault of this movie’s direction and screenplay. The Fanatic tries its hardest to make you take everything that happens seriously, but the film does a poor job exploring its concepts beyond arguably the bare minimum. Travolta’s character is an autistic obsessed fan of a celebrity with potentially violent tendencies. And that’s it. Said celebrity is a jerk that shows some heart for his son. And that’s it. Travolta’s friend is well. Actually, her’s character is barely anything besides providing some rather unneeded narration for the film.
In terms of dialogue or narrative choices, the film does the first thing you expect it to for the wrong reasons. No joke, the second line stated by our lead character is “I can’t talk too long. I gotta poo.” Yes. This is the type of movie we are working with. I was very much tempted to leave a bunch of clips for this review and call it a day, but that’s lazy. However, there’s nothing wrong with leaving one clip, for example. Observe.
And this is the entire movie—just a never-ending string of unintentional comedy from one moment to the next. And I loved every single moment of it. This premise’s nonsensical execution makes for some wonderfully gleeful viewing, and watching Travolta go so over the top reminds me of all of his best moments in another cinematic “masterpiece” Battlefield Earth. If you’re in the right mood, I highly suggest giving this one a look with your friends. Simply watch it and marvel at everything it does wrong from start to finish.
If you look at The Fanatic from that perspective, then you might have truly found something special.