Plot: Moose (John Travolta) has dedicated to his life to the magic of Hollywood, obsessed with the movies, but more with the artists who make those movies. He spends all of his limited income on posters, collectibles, and props, while seeking out autographs from his favorite performers. To call him a fan would be an understatement, as he does little beyond his collection tasks and often finds little to no joy in even that, as he feels he fails to make the most of those opportunities. But he is quite excited at the moment, as he is going to be able to sneak into an exclusive social event and meet his all time favorite, actor Hunter Dunbar (Devon Sawa). His friend Leah (Ana Golja) is working press for the event and she helps him crash the party, though he quickly makes a scene and is thrown out. A second chance to meet Dunbar arrives however, only to have a signing event shut down early when Dunbar has to deal with personal matters. But Moose doesn’t appreciate his hero letting him down and he decides to cross some lines, provided it means he gets that autograph he desperately needs.
Entertainment Value: Wow. This is a wild one, a series of odd choices that lead to a total train wreck in the traditional sense, but The Fanatic manages to be so off the rails, it picks up some cult appeal. I mean, John Travolta’s performance alone would make this one for b movie fans to pass around, but there is so much going on here that is either awkward, inexplicable, or just plain baffling, I couldn’t help but be wildly entertained by this one. The narrative is one we’ve seen before, the whole obsessed fan angle, just delivered through a distorted, off the wall lens that makes the entire experience feel almost fresh, as it is so outlandish. The tone is all over the place, sometimes darkly comic, other times more of a thriller, and even some outright horror vibes, but it is all so damn ridiculous, it almost flows together well. When the entire movie is just so outlandish, the tonal shifts wind up as positives and add to the madness, or at least that’s how I viewed The Fanatic. I know a lot of viewers will dismiss this as a cinematic abortion and I can’t blame them, but I had a lot of fun with this movie and if you appreciate outrageously misguided films, I’d recommend The Fanatic.
One reason this movie is destined to gain at least some cult status is the performance of John Travolta, which is just one you have to see to believe. The odd hairstyle aside, this is a tour de force of over the top, often ludicrous acting that even in the most serious of moments, is downright hilarious. I love the scenes where Travolta dresses in a cut rate police uniform and rattles off these phrases in an awful English accent, shouting about Jack the Ripper at tourists. Even if you think it is just a terrible effort from Travolta, he puts a massive amount of energy into the work and that is why it is so memorable, regardless of why you might remember it. There’s an interesting character here and Travolta clearly wanted to run at full speed inside Moose’s head, but the script fails him and the results are often cringe inducing, but fun to watch. Ana Golja has a smaller role, but brings a grounded, likable presence to the movie, as one of Moose’s few friends who tries at times to keep him in check. The cast also includes Jacob Grodnik, James Paxton, Devon Sawa, and Marta Gonzalez Rodin.