The Fanatic (2019): Fred Durst Presents: THE ROOM
“The Fanatic” is directed by Fred Durst, who achieved fame overtime from his involvement in the band “Limp Bizkit.” This film stars John Travolta (Pulp Fiction, Battlefield Earth) as the character of Moose. He is an obsessed fan of an actor made up for this movie’s script, Hunter Dunbar. After a failed attempt at getting Dunbar’s autograph at an event, Moose tries to get Dunbar’s attention in whatever way possible, no matter how creepy or invasive these ways may be. He tries to go to his house, follow him around, whatever. Dunbar, who is a busy actor with little time on his hands for fan interactions, wants Moose out of his life due to his stalker tendencies.
I first heard about this film back around the end of July and beginning of August. Believe it or not, John Travolta went to a local convention in my area, specifically Fan Expo Boston. I never went, I never got his autograph or anything, but part of the reason he was there in the first place was because he was on a promotional tour for this movie. I didn’t hear too much about the film until that point, and while I can appreciate the fact that Travolta is showing up to a convention for autograph signings while trying to promote a film involving a similar concept, it didn’t mean I had much faith in this film. I know a lot of people like John Travolta, but over the years, it has been revealed that he’s kind of like Nicolas Cage. He can be great, but he doesn’t always pick the finest roles. He’s been in films like “Battlefield Earth,” one of the biggest fails in the realm of blockbuster science fiction. And most recently he starred in “Gotti,” which did not do too well critically or financially. Although that says something because “The Fanatic” opened to just a little more than $3,000.
Originally, I had no real plans to watch “The Fanatic.” If I were low on options, it would probably be close to a last resort move in my playbook. When I checked once to see where it was playing, it was only at one location with two showtimes. Safe to say, I missed out on the theatrical experience. But no matter how I could get the movie, let’s just say I was gonna grin like an idiot once I can turn it on. Why? Because I have heard nothing but terrible things about it, but that’s why I wanted to watch it. It’s a film that is not exactly Shakespeare, but because it is complete and utter trash, it makes it almost have the feel of a masterpiece. On the surface, Fred Durst’s “The Fanatic” sort of reminds me of Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room.” It’s a film that is totally cringeworthy and disastrous in ways that amount to utter amazement. A number of viewers would seemingly wonder how it actually got made.
Having seen “The Fanatic” recently, I can pretty much confirm what I previously expected. It’s hot garbage. But again, it’s the kind of garbage that you don’t want to take out for certain reasons. There are moments during the movie where I felt a little turned off, but at the same time, those turnoffs are met with a variety of awkwardly funny lines, questionably insane scenes, and admittedly, a surprisingly decent performance (at times) from John Travolta.
When it comes to John Travolta’s character, I found him to be relatable in the worst possible ways. He plays a guy who dresses up as a character on Hollywood Boulevard for a living. He has one friend who we see throughout the movie, they seem to be relatively close, but I never bought their chemistry for a second. Nevertheless, Travolta does not have many friends. This point is also emphasized because he fails to stand up for himself on the job. There is another guy on the street who people tend to flock towards, Travolta interacts with this guy, and it gets to the point where Travolta is getting harassed. To add onto this, Travolta’s character of Moose loves movies, collects tons of memorabilia and other junk, is obsessed with an actor to the point where he’d do anything to get an autograph or a follow from him on social media, and he has autism! Let me just point out, this guy is almost me! I’m obsessed with Curtis Armstrong (Revenge of the Nerds, Supernatural), I have three autographs from him, we follow each other on social media, and while I tend to keep my distance from his personal business, I would not blame him if at one point or another, even right now, he thought that I was a stalker. I love movies, I collect a lot of movie-related items. And I have been diagnosed with high-function autism. Seeing John Travolta as Moose is almost like looking at a mirror image of myself if I spoke at a poor vocabulary level, if I never went to college, and if I had grey hair. So from those points, Travolta doesn’t give an F minus performance. But it’s also hard to say that his performance is also Oscar-worthy. Because just like “The Room,” there are a ton of unintentionally funny moments. There’s a clip of the movie where Moose is in a bar, he’s interacting with an actress. He receives a compliment about his shirt.
His response, while if you watch the movie, makes sense, comes off like it’s the best comedy gag of all time. The response, “It’s the only one in the world.”
Holy s*it, the amount of laughter I let out in that moment was beyond unreal! The scene may try to symbolize how awkward interactions between fans and celebrities can be, which can be interesting. But it’s so goddamn funny that I feel like the film accidentally sent me the wrong message. You want to know how convincing Moose is in this movie? We are introduced to Moose, we see him enter a store where he happens to be a regular customer. One of the first lines in this scene, out of Moose’s mouth is, “I can’t talk too long, I gotta poo.”
I mean, there is so much to talk about in this movie that could be regarded as hilarious without pure intention. It’s ridiculous if you ask me! It’s a masterpiece of crap!
I’m not gonna dive into spoilers, but here are some amazingly hysterical moments from “The Fanatic” that probably should have been serious, but turned out to present itself in a completely different manner.
There is a death scene where someone lies on the ground with blood on their face. John Travolta is looking at this person and thinks that they could still be alive, and just reflects on a time he has a nosebleed, saying things like “it wasn’t fun.”
Remember how John Travolta can’t defend himself? There’s a scene where the opposite occurs and the moment where he begins to go into self-defense mode, he almost becomes a serial killer version of himself. The moment he starts strangling somebody’s neck, and this boom sound effect goes off, I made the Joker’s laughter look tame.
But not all the hilarious gags come from Travolta. One of them comes from the actor who won’t give an autograph to the main character, Hunter Dunbar. As mentioned in the beginning, the movie is directed by Fred Durst, who is a member of Limp Bizkit. There is a scene where Dunbar is driving his kid to school, and he’s playing Limp Bizkit in his car. He’s reminiscing of the good old days where he’d listen to the band’s music. It’s almost like listening to Limp Bizkit is the only way Dunbar can get a hard-on!
This movie also features narration. It’s not from some voice that has no other significance in the movie. It’s also not from Moose, but instead, from his only friend, Leah. She’ll have a line here and there, and there are a couple unintentionally humorous lines out of her when the narration goes down. As for the actual character, I’d say that’s not always the case, at least from my experience. But one thing I will point out is that she may not be in the entire movie, but she plays an important role. She introduces Moose to an app that allows people to look up where celebrities live, and perhaps gaze at their homes. I don’t know how that would be legal, unless certain celebrities either publicly disclose their location or if they hear about this app and give someone permission to put their house on the app. Nevertheless, it’s a thing. It’s like “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” Why does it exist? I have no idea! But some freak wants this idea out there, so here we are!
Speaking of characters, I want to talk about Hunter Dunbar in depth. As mentioned, he’s an actor who is being stalked by Moose. The way this movie plays out, it almost tries to make Moose look like the main antagonist. And believe it or not, there are ways that I can personally relate to Moose. But, we have this actor who is getting followed around. I don’t know who to root for more in this movie. Dunbar, or Moose. For all I know, I shouldn’t be rooting for either of them. Because, speaking of things done perhaps without intention, both characters come off as assholes. Moose is a stalker, but Dunbar occasionally presents himself as a dick. There are times where I can stand by his actions when he acts in this sort of way, but when Moose first meets Dunbar, I can’t say the same thing. Why? Because he doesn’t even take the time to acknowledge the presence of a fan. When Moose presents a jacket Dunbar wore in “Space Vampires” in front of him, his response is “How about I sign your face with my f*cking fist?” Now, we see him having a personal matter being dealt with at this moment, so in a way, I can understand if a celebrity is a little bit angry with what’s happening. Maybe they have some bad vibes going on in their head. But it doesn’t give them the right to say something like that to a fan. Now if Moose originally introduced himself and started to talk s*it about some mistakes Dunbar did during his career, I could stand by his reply. Either that or who knows? Maybe he’ll agree that he took on one or two projects and had regrets about them. Celebrities are human. We all make mistakes. It happens.
But still, my point still stands. Who should I root for? It’s almost like a worse version of “Avengers: Infinity War.” I say that because that movie could arguably be Thanos’ story as he tries to take down all the heroes, because his motivation is clear, and he sees himself as the hero. That is something “Infinity War” handled very well. At the same time, we have all the heroes and their point of view. As an audience member, I am rooting for the heroes at all costs, partially because I have gotten to know them from eighteen other movies that came out before “Infinity War.” This movie almost doesn’t even know who the protagonist is, and who the antagonist is. You could almost flip a coin to decide who is who! I don’t even know who I should be rooting for. Because in terms of being complete assholes, both characters are almost equal in their own little ways. But one is clearly written to be the protagonist and one is clearly written to be the antagonist. As an audience member, I can easily pinpoint who is who, but the script and final product almost make it a guessing game as to who is the hero or the villain.
This movie has increments of good ideas. I won’t go into all of them, but between moments of the performance given by John Travolta, giving Moose autism, and one particular moment that happens at the end of the movie that I won’t spoil, there are things to admire. But this movie overall, fails. If this movie presented itself as a more competent product, then I would probably call it a fine allegory as to why you should never meet your heroes. Maybe they’ll treat you like crap, maybe you’ll get too close to them and invade their much valued privacy, or maybe in relation to one of those two previous ideas, you’ll forget to see the humanity in them. I can imagine that a lot of people view celebrities in the same way certain people will view religious figures. They’re not just folks that certain fans tend to like, but they’re like gods among us. It’s almost as if they were on this Earth for a reason. And that reason may associate with impressing and pleasing their fans. Although in reality, as much as they, hopefully, try to do that, they’re like the rest of us. They value time for themselves and don’t always have time for fans.
Technically speaking, the movie’s not terribly shot. The cinematography isn’t astounding, but it works. The same goes with the lighting. It just works. The real problems with this movie are the characters, some of the acting, occasional narration, plot holes, and an over-abundance of utterly funny moments. I guess the biggest compliment I can give “The Fanatic” is the fact that it’s so bad it’s good. But if you think I like the movie, you need your brain checked.
In the end, I think “The Fanatic” may be one of the interestingly horrible movies I’ve ever seen in my life. Much like “The Room,” there’s a plethora of wholeheartedly questionable scenes that just make me laugh for all the wrong reasons. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone involved with this movie eventually wrote a book on their time working on the movie and the process of how it got made. You know, sort of like Greg Sestero did with “The Disaster Artist.” Surprisingly, there’s nothing in this movie that made me truly angry. Maybe it’s because of my expectations going in. Before I saw this movie, I watched Chris Stuckmann’s review of it, which went into a deep dive about a ton of the movie’s highlights. I pretty much got the vibe of the entire of movie from there. There are certainly problems worth pointing out and a ton of “What the hell is going on with the plot,” moments, but to say I felt infuriated about “The Fanatic” is like going into a Microsoft Store trying to buy a MacBook Air. Why would I do that?! Even so, this movie still sucks, lacks sense, and wouldn’t be one I’d be turning on again anytime soon, so I’d say “The Fanatic,” despite my laughs here and there, is still worthy of a 1/10. One of the best things about this movie that I have yet to mention… IT’S BASED ON TRUE EVENTS FRED DURST EXPERIENCED! And to add onto the hilarity, this movie was dedicated to Bill Paxton. This movie does star one of his children, but even so, it’s almost seemingly crazy! This is one of those movies that you honestly have to see to believe. Then again, based on various career choices John Travolta has made, this may not be as shocking as I’d make it out to be. But even with that in mind, this movie is still the definition of “unintentionally hilarious,” and just for that, it could be worth checking out despite my low score. Thanks for reading this review! Unfortuantely, I will not have my review for “Joker” up this weekend. But fear not! Because I’ll have my review up next weekend! I’m going to be seeing “Joker” in 70mm next week, I cannot wait! For all I know it could be a life-changing event, but we’ll have to see. Be sure to follow Scene Before, check out the Facebook page, give this post a like, and share it with your friends! It really helps me out! Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Fanatic?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the worst John Travolta movie you have ever seen? I’m quite curious about what your comments will be, because I have a feeling there are quite a few contenders. Nevertheless, let me know with a comment and if you want me to sign something for you, I wish I could automatically teleport a Sharpie through my screen. Until then, good luck finding me. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!