Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas

November 23, 2009
Trippy is a word that completely defines the film adaption of Fear And Loathing, directed by Terry Gilliam. Oftentimes nonsensical, bizarre, and just plain strange, this film is more of one to be experienced rather than enjoyed.

Based off of the novel by Hunter S. Thompson, the film revolves around the somewhat true adventures of Raoul Duke (aka Thompson, played by Johnny Depp) and Dr. Gonzo (aka Oscar Acosta, Thompson's friend/attorney played by Benicio Del Toro), whom must cover a race being held in the sinful city of Las Vegas. The two, however, aren't your typical journalist and friend, both being extreme abusers of the strongest kinds of drugs. We follow the trip through their eyes, where the vision between reality and the fantasies of the psychedelic high are incredibly blurred.

The humor of the film can be appreciated, but it certainly takes the right state of mind in order to enjoy it. I'm not talking about getting high either, so you can put those thoughts out now. The film is a perspective piece, showing its audience of the degradation of American culture, as well as the flower-power movement's "hangover", if you will. It is because that generation has realized that responsibility cannot be avoided that the two main characters constantly use drugs, to escape the reality of their situations. It's also very honest in its portrayal of drugs, showing the 'fun' side of drugs as well as the crystal clear level verging on addiction.

While the stoner humor and themes can be humorous in their own right, the movie sometimes feels really disjointed; almost like a two-hour long druggie joke. Then again, perhaps it's supposed to be that way. Perhaps the disorientation, the disjointness, and confusion is meant to serve as the audience's high? When you can no longer tell the difference of what, in the film, is reality, a drug-induced fantasy, or an exaggerated mixture of the two could be the movie's way of trying to get those non-drug users of understanding the unreality of the characters and their problems?

One of the most irritating complaints from the side that adores this film is that if one does not like the film, they probably didn't understand it in the first place. So, before any secret cult fans of this film chime in, I'd just like to say that I do understand what the movie's trying to say. That society is falling apart and that drugs are merely a person's way of escaping that. I get it. However, the whole disjointness was a huge problem with the film, spreading it and dragging it to unneeded and thoughtless scenes, which usually perpetuated the overuse of the druggie joke or was pretty much pointless.

I personally thought the film was pretty alright, but can easily understand if someone says that they hated or loved this movie.

I'll admit, though, that Depp played the role fantastically. His narration also brought the film up, in my opinion. This surprised eve myself, as narration usually brings a film down ala Blade Runner. Without him, the whole movie would have been much less entertaining. This isn't to say that del Toro wasn't any good, or that his chemistry with Depp's character wasn't great. It's just that Depp completely overshadows the poor actor.

Despite the wackiness, there are also some serious moments to be had in the film. Moments where Duke questions if this life of debauchery really means anything, and if it's really the right path to be taking. It's never quite clear, though, if Duke ever takes his own advice seriously - up until the final lines of dialogue from the character.

Metaphorically, this film is like a roller-coaster ride that leaves your stomach churning. You're disgusted, disorientated, dazed, and confused. Despite all of that, though, you still manage to admit that the ride was pretty entertaining, even if you didn't like it a whole lot. So, faithful reader, I suggest buying (or renting) a ticket and, if you're up for it, taking a ride you won't soon forget. Whether that's a good or bad thing, on the other hand, is up to you.

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