CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: FRED DURST / SCREENPLAY: FRED DURST, DAVE BEKERMAN / STARRING: JOHN TRAVOLTA, DEVON SAWA, ANA GOLJA, JACOB GODNIK / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 8TH (DIGITAL DOWNLOAD), JULY 8TH (DVD)
John Travolta continues to emulate Nicolas Cage, by producing multiple non-cinema releases, each with an increasingly outrageous hair piece. In The Fanatic, he sports a ridiculous grey mullet to portray an obsessive fan with an unconfirmed mental illness. The film isn’t as funny as it sounds, but nor is it terrible, actually portraying an interesting take on the stalker genre, in which the star is the ultimate villain. It is poorly handled by director Fred Durst (yes the Limp Bizkit front man), however, with a clumsy voice over, which distracts from the story rather than enchanting it and some time-lapse drawings that don’t seem to add anything to the unfolding narrative.
We are introduced to Moose (the legendary Travolta) traversing Hollywood on his moped; he frequents a comic book store and displays his mental health issues by swaying and not looking people in the eye. We have to assume it is some kind of autism, but it is never addressed. Moose is obsessed with action star Hunter Dunbar (Sawa, barely seen since Final Destination, who looks surprisingly good, more muscular and better looking than the fresh-faced kid he was introduced to audiences as). Hunter is doing a signing at the store, so Moose buys some expensive memorabilia and turns up at the event, only for Hunter to leave early, due to his ex-wife needing him to look after their child. Hunter is immediately rude to Moose and refuses to sign his expensive items, even though he had time to do so. Moose’s BFF (his phrase not ours) is a female photographer called Leah (Golja), who foolishly tells him about the ‘Star Maps’ app - not something an obsessive with social issues needs to know about. She also provides the films pointless commentary, telling us things we already know and superfluous information. She fails to mention what affliction Moose has, or why a young girl is friends with a man in his mid-‘60s. Buoyed by access to Hunter’s house, Moose continues to try and get an autograph, with increasingly violent consequences.
The central relationship between Moose and Hunter is well handled, and we are made to feel sorry for Moose, with Hunter revealed to be a nasty person, described as ‘mean’ by Moose. Hunter is shown to be violent whereas Moose, is ultimately harmless. The Fanatic is keen to press the idea that stars are nothing without their fans, and even if they are a little odd on the surface, they keep the star in business. If Hunter would have just signed his memorabilia and been pleasant to Moose, there wouldn’t have been an issue. The rest of the film doesn’t work though. The bullies who work on the Hollywood boardwalk along with Moose are unrealistic and non-threatening. They make fun of him, but twice ask him to help them pickpocket, what use would he even be? A subplot with Hunter’s maid is also forgotten about, coming back to haunt the star at the end, a situation he could easily get out of with an alibi and DNA evidence. The Fanatic may become a fun curiosity, due to Travolta portraying a man with limited capacities, but it doesn’t grace so-bad-it’s-funny territory. It’s a passable portrayal of a familiar theme that has been done better elsewhere, namely 1996’s The Fan.