Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fear and loathe this movie like the PLAGUE.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Directed by Terry Gilliam (!!!)
Starring Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro
Based on the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
Rated R (for Pervasive Extreme Drug Use And Related Bizarre Behaviour, Strong Language, Briefy Nudity, Concussive Force That Could Possibly Enduce Severe Brain Damage To The Viewer)
Running time: A murderously torturous 128 minutes???!?!?!! RUN!!!

It's common knowledge among those who know me that I have a huge fascination for wildly surreal, druggy movies and books even though I have personally never once taken drugs in my life. They fascinate me. I love the surrealism, and when present I enjoy the humour as well. I just totally trip out on this stuff, it's a lot of fun, and usually I think the crazier the better. I have yet to see a psychedelic film that was so trippy and drugged out that I simply couldn't take it. Or so I used to say.

And then I saw this film. Biggest mistake I ever made.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is easily the most vile, annoying, loud, irritating, stupid tripout movie I have ever seen in my life. Not since Cool World have I seen such a concussive endurance test that gave me such a splitting headache. This is the most unwatchable tripe I have ever encountered among drug films. I sat there with the worst headache you can possibly imagine trying to watch this thing, and I finally had to walk out after about forty-five minutes. I just couldn't take it anymore, and most of the rest of the audience had agreed; they had all split while the getting was good.

This is based on a famous book which I have heard about but never read. I have absolutely no desire to do so after watching this thing, either. I'm really not concerned about how it matches up to the book or anything like that; that's for someone else to decide. All I'm concerned with here is whether it's a viewable experience, and as that it fails spectacularly. No wonder it was such a failure when released.

Johnny Depp plays Raoul Duke, a character meant to be the author, a nerd who dresses annoyingly like Gilligan, pretentiously always has a persistant cigarette holder in his mouth as though he were someone important, and narrarates the film in one of those ultrafast monotonous monotones that always get on my nerves. His attorney, Dr. Gonzo, is played by Benicio Del Toro, who is always personally "advising" him "as his attorney" on his personal drug intake. The two have just about every type of substance (including ether!) known to man stashed away in the trunk, and the movie starts the second the drugs take effect. Literally.

Duke is a journalist who is supposed to be driving out to Vegas in order to cover an innocent bike race for Sports Illustrated, and why he uses such an excursion as an obvious excuse for drugginess is beyond me. Watching someone stoned/high/whatever on film is one thing whether it's in a comedy, drama or documentary, but this is just flat out irritating. These two are so zonked out of their gourds throughout the whole film (that I endured, at least) that they can barely stand up. They move, scream and make constant hand motions as though autistic, all but completely crawl around on all fours, and are barely intelligible. I would be frightened out of my mind if I ever encountered people like this, and that's exactly what happens at one early point in the film when they pick up an innocent Californian hitch hiker, and scare the poor kid witless: I instantly felt sorry for him. Oh well, if nothing else, at least it can be said accurately by some moralist out there that this film illustrates perfectly why one shouldn't hitch rides, if nothing else.

The thing drones on and on and on endlessly, and it continues in the exact same loud, in-your-face, relentlessly wearying speed it started with. It's got quite a few cameos, but who cares? By the time I got to the point when they were thrashing about in a bathtub or some such thing and vomiting all over the landscape, that's when I called it quits. I couldn't take it anymore and just had to get out; how could Terry Gilliam of all people sink to such a low? I've always had such fond memories of his movies Time Bandits, Brazil and Baron Munchausen, and then after a hiatus he comes back with the depressing 12 Monkeys, and now this...? Why, Terry, why?

One of my best friends who also adores trippy movies, the moment I mentioned this title to him, instantly exclaimed, "Oh my GOD, wasn't it AWFUL? My friends all kept going, 'You gotta see this movie! You gotta see this movie!' And I HATED it!" We both agreed that the only thing cool about it was the soundtrack, or what we could hear of it anyway. Another one of those timeless cases when a lousy movie gets a fantastic soundtrack; I may buy the album, but I'd sooner stick my head in a vat of wet cement than suffer through this torture chamber again.

Oh, and I just want to mention: about my above comment regarding this film's "relentlessly wearying speed": No pun intended. There, see? I didn't even feel like editing that little comment up there with the rest of it where it belongs. You see how much this disgusts me? I can't even continue editing this review properly because even writing about it brings the headache back.

You don't want to watch Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I don't care how much you love druggy, trippy movies, I don't care if you love druggy, trippy movies simply because they ARE druggy, trippy movies, trust me, you do NOT want to watch Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

And if you do, if you genuinely and honestly do, then you scare me. Please leave my pages and never, ever come back.

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