The Scoop: 1998 R, directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, and Tobey Maguire
Tagline: Buy the ticket, take the ride.
Summary Capsule: Two guys hightail it to Vegas for a week of insane drug use.
Justin’s Rating: What’s that behind you! (sneaking out of giving a rating)
Justin’s Review: I laugh whenever I hear a woman say, “Guys are just afraid of commitment.” Because, in my immediate experience, whenever a guy has fallen head over heels for a girl who obviously feels the same for him and he admits his feelings and expresses his desire for a relationship, a union between their souls (and I mean, this is a good match, since both of you can quote the same movies and kiss without scraping teeth), the woman squirms out of it faster than me avoiding the dentist and she declares that she “can’t handle a relationship right now, I just want to be friends.” And then there’s some sort of lame consolation prize, like a pretense that she still is interested in you, and there is a possibility that in a distant future on a remote planet in a parallel universe you both might still get together. So, being a guy in love, you just wait and wait and wait as she leads you on into old age. Therefore, I laugh whenever I hear that commitment line.
This, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with the movie, which is a really crazy trip about two guys, Duke (Johnny Depp) and Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro), who go to Las Vegas and consume massive amounts of illegal drugs. It’s like The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Drug Use, and possibly the best authority I’ve ever seen on the subject. They snort cocaine, smoke weed, sniff ether, and end up frying their minds beyond human comprehension.
I saw this film with my Republican-minded friend Vinnie, who loves the book (by Hunter S. Thompson) and who also got a phone call from some woman he kept anonymous. So, during this movie that consists mainly of psychodelic images and mumbled lines, there was a lot of “What did he say?” and “What just happened?” coming from under his pillow, where he was talking.
Okay, I’m really not all for drugs, unless they’re administered to my system (like today!). But the raw edge of humor in this movie is so sharp you could shave with it, and I loved pretty much every second of it. It got pretty long towards the end, but when Depp awoke in his hotel room (which was covered with green water) with a lizard tail strapped to his hiney, I was hooked again.
Supposedly, Fear and Loathing is about the death of the American Dream. Which I thought fell under the purview of The Great Gatsby, which I had to read a dozen times between high school and college. Doesn’t it stink? It’s like the Waterworld of books. Please inform your teachers, so they’ll stop making kids read it! I think the film does a good job of doing whatever it wants to do, and I also don’t think too many people will see it. Shame.
toni’s Rating: 2 midgets and an eel.
toni’s Review: What. The. Hell.
I’m finding it hard to review this movie because I don’t know which way I want to see it. While I decide, you all go read Justin’s plot synopsis further up. It’s good, and I’m lazy. Onward!
During my first viewing, I found the movie insanely funny and spent the better part of an hour (I came in late) engrossed in the film trying to figure out what the hell was going on. It really is quite funny, with the requisite weird camera angles indicating ‘drugged up’ and enough really odd crap to keep you going even if you’re not paying attention to the plot. Like the scenes in the really tacky circus/casino. Duke and Gonzo are high on…uh…something they sniffed from a mini US flag and Dr. Gonzo can’t quite make it off the spinning merry-go-round bar. It’s just plain fun and I would recommend Fear and Loathing just for the humor.
But then I went and saw it for a second time (I had a free rental coming and I missed the beginning). I don’t know if it was my mood or the fact that I watched it alone, but my second viewing felt altogether different. It was still funny, but in a more wistful, sad kinda way. I think I was seeing the deeper elements this time, all that stuff about the loss of the American Dream and that awful crash of reality you get after a nice long youth. But then I start feeling like a culture mooch because I missed the sixties by a decade or two and hell, I’m not even American. Yeah, I’m being confusing but I still haven’t figured out how I felt about View #2. I know I enjoyed it but I don’t think I’ll watch it again, though the book is a definite possibility.
SO I guess all I’m saying is…watch it once. And feel free to tell me what you thought. Please.
- You can see author Hunter S. Thompson at the Jefferson Airplane show. Vinnie also said he was the guy in the bar wearing a green visor.
- Fear and Loathing was directed by Monty Python animation master Terry Gilliam, who is a master of bringing the surreal and bizarre to film. (His former projects included Brazil, 12 Monkeys, and Time Bandits.) Fear and Loathing also has numerous cameos, including Penn Gilette (of Penn and Teller) as a carnival barker, Cameron Diaz as a reporter, and Christina Ricci as Lucy, the wierd painter kid.
Duke: There he goes. One of God’s own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.
Duke [tripping on acid]: Wait! We can’t stop here! This is bat country!
Duke: We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half-full of cocaine and a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls. But the only thing that worried me was the ether. There is nothing more irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge, and I knew we would be getting into that rotten stuff sooner or later.
Gonzo: [to a hitchhiker] We’re your friends. We’re not like the others, man, really.
Duke: No more of that talk or I’ll put the leeches on ya, understand?
[Gonzo and Duke among the DA’s at the convention]
Gonzo: I saw these bastards in Easy Rider, but I didn’t believe they were real. Not like this, man, not hundreds of them.
Duke: They’re actually pretty nice people once you get to know them.
Gonzo: Know them? I know these people in my damn blood.
Duke: Don’t say that word around here. You’ll get them excited.
Gonzo: Did you see what God just did to us, man?
Duke: Order some golf shoes, otherwise we’ll never get outta this place alive..
If you liked this movie, try these:
- The Rum Diary