From the mind of Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst comes “The Fanatic,” a movie starring John Travolta that reviewers are having a whale of a time eviscerating. In terms of Rotten Tomatoes scores, it is just about on par with Travolta’s last starring vehicle, “Gotti.” Which obviously makes this yet another can’t-miss car crash from the Scientologist who recently shaved his head at the behest of Pitbull and mistook drag artist Jade Jolie for Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards.
In a zero-star review from RogerEbert.com, Brian Tallerico writes, “‘The Fanatic’ hates fans. It hates actors. It hates tourists, shop owners, and servants. It really, really hates autistic people. And it hates you. It’s a movie that thinks you’re an idiot, someone who won’t see through its shallow provocations, illogical behavior, and vile misanthropy.”
The movie stars Travolta as an autistic man named Moose, whose obsession with a horror film actor (played by whatever-happened-to-him erstwhile heartthrob Devon Sawa) leads him on a downward spiral that results in his using, to quote Wikipedia, “his weaponized autism to fight crime.”
“With no explanation for what the Moose’s condition is — and boy, is what Travolta doing a choice — Durst and his main star have, rather than giving us a character, merely offered up a hapless, carnival figure of laughable madness, alternately impossible and improbable,” Robert Abele wrote in his review for TheWrap. Apparently, this is a movie that gives stalkers an even worse name.
“One hesitates to lay all the blame at Durst’s doorstep, since by all accounts his first directorial feature ‘The Education of Charlie Banks’ (2007) was a serious, creditable drama,” writes Variety. “But as helmer, producer, co-writer, concept originator and recording catalog self-promoter here, he merits the accusation of this typically rank dialogue morsel: ‘Moose didn’t just cross the line. He f—n’ nuked it.'”
The litany of pain continues. Glenn Kenny at The New York Times writes, “As it lumbers to its climax, the movie delineates the border that separates the merely stale from the genuinely rancid. For all the heavy lifting ‘The Fanatic’ does, it winds up on the weaker side of the divide.”
“Apparently intended as a sobering look at the celebrity/fan dynamic — and reportedly based on the real experiences of director and co-writer Fred Durst, frontman of the ’90s rap-rock hitmaker Limp Bizkit — ‘The Fanatic’ is so weirdly exaggerated that it almost feels like Durst and Travolta were just goofing around one weekend, and happened to have a camera handy,” writes LA Times‘ Noel Murray.
“The only thing worth remembering is Travolta’s brave, misguided performance,” writes Rex Reed.
The actor that John Travolta used to be — Oscar-nominated for “Pulp Fiction” and “Saturday Night Fever,” going for broke with auteurs such as Brian De Palma and John Woo in “Blow Out” and “Face/Off” respectively, epically mispronouncing Idina Menzel’s name at the Oscars — is long gone. Whatever iteration this is can be seen in very limited release this weekend.