I’ll say one thing for John Travolta’s performance in “The Fanatic,” a movie about a rabidly movie-obsessed loser who goes off the deep end when he meets — and is rebuffed by — his favorite actor: He’s committed.
Adopting an awkward gait, a nervous, grating delivery, nerdy glasses and an unflattering haircut that is one part mullet, one part jarhead and one part Lloyd Christmas in “Dumb and Dumber,” the actor invests the kind of intensity in his role that suggests he’s angling for an award.
Unfortunately for him, the movie — directed by Limp Bizkit frontman-turned-filmmaker Fred Durst, whose experience with a stalker-like fan is said to have inspired the film — does not live up to the extravagantly wounded ferocity with which Travolta attacks his part.
It doesn’t even live up to the haircut. “The Fanatic” is a psychological thriller with no real psychological insights or particular thrills, other than the gratuitous violence with which the story climaxes.
The 65-year-old actor plays Moose, a childlike man who appears to eke out a living as a Hollywood street performer, portraying a mustachioed British bobby.
His only friend seems to be a papparazza (Ana Golja) who helps him track down the address of the action star (Devon Sawa) on whom Moose is fixated, after Moose is brushed off by the egotistical actor at an appearance.
Moose then appears at the man’s front door, crosses paths with his car, climbs into his backyard and inevitably enters his house, where — well, you can probably guess where this going. It ain’t good.
Neither is the movie, which limps along, episodically, until the crescendo-ing — and predictably bloody — denouement.
There’s surprising sympathy for Moose, given Durst’s reported history with his own unhinged fan. In fact, Sawa’s Hunter Dunbar — a performer who seems to be known for B movies such as the laughably titled “Space Vampires” — is the bad guy here: a jerk with a justifiably angry ex-wife (Jessica Uberuaga) and an unseemly sexual history with his housekeeper.
But that sympathy doesn’t extend to anything especially perceptive about the symbiotic yet fraught relationship between celebrities and the celebrity-obsessed, except the observation that famous people need their fans.
Delivering a wacky, at times uncomfortably hammy portrayal of neediness, Travolta is certainly watchable. But “The Fanatic” is hardly a worthy showcase for such a bold — and, yes, at times brave — piece of acting.