The Fanatic (2019)

My brother went to the Toronto Fan Expo a few weeks ago and I was kind of shocked to learn that John Travolta would be there. Since he appeared in Saturday Night Fever, Travolta has been a fixture on the A list. What would he be doing deigning himself to appear at a comiccon, signing autographs and meeting the little people?

This movie was why.

Moose (Travolta) is said to be autistic in the things I’ve read about the film, but he’s played here as an incredibly slow man who only finds joy in autograph hunting. This may hit too close to home for some of my friends who are taking the long trek to conventions like the one in Toronto and who often are aware of the celebrity happenings in my city to a degree that I am certain that may cross the line from fandom to outright need for legal action.

Now Moose has the opportunity to meet his favorite actor, Hunter Dunbar (Devon Sawa, Idle Hands). At the last minute, as Moose waits in line, Dunbar’s ex-wife appears and he loses his chance to get an autograph. Worse, his hero treats him like a complete jerk.

Moose’s friend, paparazzi photographer Leah, tries to make up for this by getting him invited to a celebrity party and then showing him an app that publishes the addresses of stars. Instead of just mailing a letter, Moose brings it in person and again, Dunbar reacts violently. Not getting the hint, our protagonist scales the fence around the actor’s house and walks right in. On the way in Moose accidentally kills the housekeeper, but again, Dunbar threatens and abuses Moose.

Finally, our man has had enough. He returns that night dressed as Jason Vorhees and ties Dunbar up and stabs him with a prop knife that does no damage before faking his own death. Dunbar then turns the tables and asks to be his friend, so Moose unties him. The actor goes wild, shooting off Moose’s hand and stabbing him in the eye before letting him leave. He wanders the streets of Hollywood where tourists think he’s in costume before Leah saves him. Then, Dunbar is arrested for killing his housekeeper.

Interestingly enough, Devon Sawa has gone on from playing an obsessed fan in Eminem’s “Stan” video to dealing with an obsessed fan, while Travolta had his pussy finger broken in Saturday Night Fever and now has his entire hand blown clean off. He also gets to utter timeless lines such as, “I can’t talk too long. I gotta poo.” and “Watch out. Here’s Moosey!” Seriously — he really should have followed Kirk Lazarus’ advice in Tropic Thunder before he took this role.

I lay the blame for this amazing turd of a film squarely at the feet of one Fred Durst. Not secure with merely transforming the peace and love of Woodstock into the 1999 debacle that was a nightmarish world of broken bones, open flames and sexual assault. But hey — according to a Variety article, he has no regrets. “It’s easy to point the finger and blame [us], but they hired us for what we do — and all we did is what we do,” said Dusrt. “I would turn the finger and point it back to the people that hired us.” What else would you expect from the man who did it all for the nookie, the what, the nookie? Certainly not a good film. It’s as if his epic work for commercials was an ill preparation for the subtle nuance of the story of a mentally troubled man navigating the difference between Hollywood fact and fiction. This film has all of the subtle tones and hints of genius that one would expect from the auteur who gifted us with “Break Stuff.”

Actually, Durst doesn’t deserve all the blame, despite including a scene where Sawa’s character literally talks at length to his son about how much he loves Limp Bizkit.

Travolta should know better.

Every single decision he makes as an actor in this film is wrong.

This is beyond a bad performance in a bad movie.

This is the type of film that I will return to time and again, pointing it out to say, “Truly this is as bad as it gets and all films from here on out will be measured against this movie.” I really don’t want to ruin how bad it is for you any longer, but the scene where he says, “Poppycock!” repeatedly while looking into a mirror as he wears as a English policeman costime must be experienced.

I mean, it gets so bad that the same opening credits that start the film are repeated at the end. The same exact credits. Who does this? How does this happen? Did not one single person responsible for this film stop and say, “This whole thing just feels off?”

Nope. That’s why Travolta was in Toronto.

In a year full of some films that I can point to as amongst the worst I’ve ever seen, isn’t it somewhat comforting to know that something came out that sucks worse than Serenity?

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