Bil’s rating (out of 5): 0.
USA, 1998. Fear and Loathing LLC, Rhino Films, Shark Productions, Summit Entertainment, Universal Pictures. Screenplay by Terry Gilliam, Tony Grisoni, Tod Davies, Alex Cox, based on the book by Hunter S. Thompson. Cinematography by Nicola Pecorini. Produced by Patrick Cassavetti, Laila Nabulsi, Stephen Nemeth. Music by Ray Cooper. Production Design by Alex McDowell. Costume Design by Julie Weiss. Film Editing by Lesley Walker. Cannes Film Festival 1998.
Painfully unwatchable film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel stars a very funny Johnny Depp in the lead role as Thompson’s alter ego. Benicio Del Toro comes along for the drug-induced ride as Depp’s lawyer when the two of them decide to go to Las Vegas and do a report on a motorcycle race. The assignment, of course, takes a back seat to their giant suitcase full of hallucinogenics, and director Terry Gilliam gets no end of pleasure from showing all sorts of ridiculous adventures that they go on with pharmaceutical assistance. Unfortunately, Gilliam never manages to make any sense of it, not even in the this-doesn’t-make-sense-on-purpose kind of way. Instead, the shallow, unappealing characters and frenetic, headache-inducing pace get on your nerves until you just have to turn it off. Kudos to anyone who makes it through until the very end. Look for a host of celebrity cameos including, the best of them, Ellen Barkin as a burnt-out desert waitress.
The Criterion Collection: #175