The Fanatic (Advanced Screening 2019)

The Fanatic (2019)

the fanatic

Director (co-writer): Fred Durst

Cast: John Travolta, Devon Sawa, Ana Golja, Jacob Grodnik, James Paxton, Josh Richman, Jessica Uberuaga, Marta Gonzalez Rodin

It was a really nice opportunity to see the advanced screening of The Fanatic at Fan Expo Canada before its limited release on August 30th. Suffice to say that past a certain point, John Travolta’s films haven’t quite been on my radar or just haven’t quite peaked my interest. The most recent film that I saw of his probably was The Taking of Pelham 123 and I don’t remember liking that one a lot. However, The Fanatic was one that as a group, all of three of us did want to go see but kept our expectations fairly neutral especially for myself, since I hadn’t researched much about it in the first place.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about The Fanatic. Its a thriller about an autistic fan called Moose, played by John Travolta who finds an opportunity to meet his favorite horror film actor Hunter Dunbar, played by Devon Sawa. However, it becomes a missed opportunity due to bad timing and gets rejected. In the effort to try to get it, he asks for a friend Leia, played by Ana Golja who introduces him to a star house hunting app where he manages to find the address and goes over and over again, hoping to finally get the autograph being shot down each time until he “nukes the boundaries” (quoted from the movie).

There’s no doubt that John Travolta is a great actor and in this role as he portrays a autistic man and a hardcore movie fan, he does a great job. I’m sure any role like this will garner some kind of criticism but for myself, its the awkward moments and the whole idea that in his mind, he doesn’t realize how far he had gone over the boundaries that makes it more poignant to watch (as the audience reaction seemed to reflect as well). Moose is a really great character in that sense and its a role that I’ve never seen John Travolta play and creates a contrast in his filmography. The performances of The Fanatic make the movie thrilling possibly and seems a bit of a character study especially for Moose as most of the time is spent with him however, Hunter Dunbar is done well with Devon Sawa who really is the victim here but his strong personality turns himself into a bully of sorts and doesn’t give him a lot to sympathize.

Overall, The Fanatic has its pros and cons. Its strengths are in its characters and actors ability to excel in the two leading roles here. The script also tries to capture the details to sculpt a clever twist ending which didn’t quite work in my case but for my husband who didn’t remember a little detail might have been more shocking. It has its thrills and thriller elements but its a lot more of a drama and puts a lot to question about the society as sometimes unjust things happen and unexplained things also occur and those who are in the spotlight will have these situations happen and the difficulty of defining the right and wrong of it all. Is it a great film? Not exactly but there’s an indie element here to give it some depth to ponder at least.

 

Grease (1978)

I’d like to consider myself pretty knowledgeable when it comes to musicals.  I know that there’s a ton that I haven’t seen but I’ve also seen a good bunch of them and they are possibly one of my favorite genres ever to watch.  Imagine the surprise when I tell you that before 2 weeks ago, I’ve never seen Grease before.  I know of Grease and I’ve seen the Grease based episode on Glee before.  I’m relatively okay with the younger days of John Travolta and I know that Olivia Newton-John is in it, even though I’ve never actually seen her in any movies.  Its always been on my list but I’ve just never gotten around to it.

Here we are! My friends dropped by with their little one (I talked about it HERE) and while we had nothing to do while she took care of her mommy duties, we sat down to watch Grease 🙂

Let’s check it out!!

Grease (1978)

grease

Director: Randal Kleiser

Cast: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Jeff Conaway, Stockard Channing, Didi Conn, Barry Pearl, Michael Tucci, Kelly Ward

Good girl Sandy and greaser Danny fell in love over the summer. But when they unexpectedly discover they’re now in the same high school, will they be able to rekindle their romance? – IMDB

 I have no idea what has taken me this long to watch Grease.  Grease is a fun high school musical film full of great songs and great characters.  While I was completely convinced with the whole romance between Danny and Sandy and it begged for a little more development, the music and dance choreography was so great and really memorable.  Watching this actually  made me realize that I knew most of the songs before I even watched this.  Maybe my parents watched this when I was young and it stuck in my memory? I don’t know.

grease

My version of Grease’s review wouldn’t be complete without tackling the concept of young John Travolta.  I had a bit of respect for him until he really creeped me out in this year’s Academy Awards. He looks a tad plastic and I haven’t quite enjoyed his recent movies.  I can’t even remember them anymore.  But young John Travolta, early in his career, I believe, was fantatic.  Sure, like any musical brought to the big screen, there’s a tad of overacting and whatnot but Danny is such a great character.  He’s the school bad boy and the leader of the T-Birds but he falls in love for Sandy.  The choice now is deciding whether he can give up his image for this girl.  The character development of his character was pretty good from trying to hide his feelings to being an encouraging leader to his friends (especially about their rundown crappy car and turning it into Grease Lightning) and by the end, he’s changed in his own way. John Travolta in this role was really great.  He carried it amazingly and while I sat around wondering if John Travolta in his younger self was handsome, I do admit he had a bit of charm going for him as Danny.

Plus, he had his buddies in T-Birds and they made up for a lot of humor as well.  Just looking at the supporting role in his best friends Kenickie (Jeff Conaway).  That guy kind of grew on me a little.

grease

Turning to the other side, the ladies.  Sandy is from Australia originally and due to a change of events, she ends up in the same school as Danny.  And through some way, she ends up hanging out with the Pink Ladies lead by Rizzo (Stockard Channing), a independent girl who holds her on but really is quite soft-hearted when you get to know her.  Her and Kenickie have an interesting vibe.  The other Pink Ladies are all unique in their own way, each one has their own personality. Two of these girls are more highlighted: Rizzo and Frenchie.  Frenchie’s all about living in her dreams but uncertain about her future. Its a good reflection of high school and trying to figure out what to do with your future, at least a glimpse of it.

grease

Going back to our main lady, Sandy.  She’s a sweet, good girl.  She has her own principles and really likes Danny but she wants him to accept the guy that she spent the summer with.  The contrast between the characters and the individually they were all pretty good but the development of the romance between Danny and Sandy was a little lacking and same kind of goes for Rizzo and Kenickie.  Not to say that when they were together it didn’t have their own little spark but what made up for it was definitely the upbeat music.  I could get that the fast pace of events going on and the music and dance sequences really kept the audience engaged in the movie and that’s the plus to all this.

Overall, Grease is a fun upbeat teenage musical full of great dance sequences and amusing characters and catchy songs.  Its absolutely addictive to watch (and I’m saying this because I watched it a lot of times the week after I saw this which is what delayed writing this actual review…).  I love Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta as Sandy and Danny respectively.  Although their story could be a little more developed, same goes for Rizzo and Kenickie, there was still a nice chemistry going on between the couples.  Definitely a must-see and an awesome time altogether! 🙂 I may be one of the few that haven’t seen this but if you haven’t, you should!

Have you seen Grease? What do you think of John Travolta? Which is your favorite song?

Hairspray (2007)

I’m a huge musical person! I love it all, well almost all…I have some issues with say, Nine.  Not the musical quality just the movie in general.  However, after a whole month of horror, torture, slashing, crazy people, I’m ready for some singing and dancing.  Corny movies are perfect for this phase and I’ve watched most of them so its perfect for this month while I’m writing like crazy 🙂 Hairspray is my absolute go-to movie when I need a lift in spirit.

hairspray posterDirector: Adam Shankman

Cast: Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Zac Efron, Brittany Snow, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, Queen Latifah

1962 Baltimore was influenced by the local TV show, The Corny Collins Show.  It featured a bunch of high school students who everyone wanted to be.  A “pleasantly plump” (as IMDB describes her) Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) lives and breaths the show, especially every month’s Negro Day.  Her and her best friend, Penny (Amanda Bynes) both run home after school to catch it and learn the new dance moves.  When there is an empty spot on the show, Tracy auditions for it but is turned down by the very snobby TV manager, Velma Von Tussel (Michelle Pfeiffer) who believes in upstanding the norms of skinny and white being the way it should be. When the show’s star, Link (Zac Efron) invites Tracy to go audition a second time at the dance event at school, Corny Collins (James Marsden) adds her in right away.  Her ideas of supporting integration doesn’t take a favor to Velma and along with her daughter Amber (Brittany Snow), they try to stop her. Despite all their efforts, she brings a whole new wave of thought to everyone around her.

hairspray 2

I really don`t think any other movie makes me as happy as watching Hairspray 🙂

Thats what I tweeted after watching Hairspray once (for the millionth time) on Friday night.  What I love about Hairspray is that it has catchy tunes and the cast is absolutely fantastic.  Just look at the list above! Its filled with actors and actresses I love.  A lot of those when I first saw Hairspray had surprised me that they had agreed to take part in this.

hairspray velma corny

Christopher Walken, really? Man, was he hilarious! Michelle Pfeiffer totally kicked some butt at being the racist and full of prejudice mother.  I’m a huge fan of Amanda Bynes back then because of She’s the Man and Brittany Snow because of John Tucker Must Die.  They were the teen flicks queens in my book (alongside Lindsey Lohan).  That one reason I want to see Brittany Snow’s career get better because she’s a respectful actress and I was happy to watch Would you Rather for Halloween (review HERE if you’d like to check it out).  These are all supporting cast.  My favorite would have to go out to John Travolta in what I assume is a body suit and playing as a woman.  He was impressive, especially when he did all the sequences with Christopher Walken, who played her husband.  However, the biggest joy I had was watching Queen Latifah on screen and everything she sang, its a total mood lifter.  Of course, our lead has to be amazing as well.  I have never heard of Nikki Blonsky before Hairspray and never after either. However, nothing takes away the fact that she was so fun to watch on screen.  She danced and sang and just took it away.

SCENE FROM MOVIE 'HAIRSPRAY'

Hairspray doesn’t have a lot to talk about.  Its nothing that focuses on anything deep and profound but it does try to inspire change and to be open mind.  In the time that its set in, this was the situation they were in: the rights of blacks and whites.  Physical appearances like skin color and size was an issue that divided up people.  However, its as always, art, music and dance closes the gaps, with the help of a a few outstanding individuals who want to instigate change. Most of these musicals tend to carry a lot of inspiring messages. Its uplifting to watch it.

hairspray stubbs

Hairspray may seem corny to the max,  (maybe thats why James Marsden’s character is called Corny  Collins) but it packs in a lot of fun and good times.  Its filled with catchy songs and cute dances.  The cast is funny and silly most of the times and its really hard to not just laugh out loud, if you’re into musicals.  In whole, its just some good energetic and full of passion. It never fails to make me jump out of my chair and do some dorky dancing 😉

If you’re having a bad day and you like musicals, this is an absolutely awesome choice.  Even if you’re having a great day, it’ll make you feel even better 🙂 I actually played this movie a second time later that night, just to give you an idea how much I love it.