Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas [1998]

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Ellen Barkin, Craig Bierko, Gary Busey
Genre: Comedy
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 119 minutes

The original cowriter and director of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was Alex Cox, whose earlier film Sid and Nancy suggests that Cox could have been a perfect match in filming Hunter S. Thompson's psychotropic masterpiece of "gonzo" journalism. Unfortunately Cox departed due to the usual "creative differences," and this ill-fated adaptation was thrust upon Terry Gilliam, whose formidable gifts as a visionary filmmaker were squandered on the seemingly unfilmable elements of Thompson's ether-fogged narrative. The result is a one-joke movie without the joke--an endless series of repetitive scenes involving rampant substance abuse and the hallucinogenic fallout of a road trip that's run crazily out of control. Johnny Depp plays Thompson's alter ego, "gonzo" journalist Raoul Duke, and Benicio Del Toro is his sidekick and so-called lawyer Dr. Gonzo. During the course of a trip to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race, they ingest a veritable chemistry set of drugs, and Gilliam does his best to show us the hallucinatory state of their zonked-out minds. This allows for some dazzling imagery and the rampant humor of stumbling buffoons, and the mumbling performances of Depp and Del Toro wholeheartedly embrace the tripped-out, paranoid lunacy of Thompson's celebrated book. But over two hours of this insanity tends to grate on the nerves--like being the only sober guest at a party full of drunken idiots. So while Gilliam's film may achieve some modest cult status over the years, it's only because Fear and Loathing is best enjoyed by those who are just as stoned as the characters in the movie. --Jeff Shannon

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Raoul Duke:
Well? What are your plans?

Dr. Gonzo:
Plans?

Raoul Duke:
The child in the bedroom.

Dr. Gonzo:
Oh, Lucy. I met her on the plane. Yeah, she's a religious freak. I gave her a cap before I realized... Jesus, she's never even had a drink before.

Raoul Duke:
Well... It'll probably work out. We can keep her loaded and peddle her ass at the drug convention. Yeah. She's perfect for this gig. These cops will go fifty bucks a head to beat her into submission and then gang fuck her. We can set her up in one of these back street motels, hang pictures of Jesus all over the room, then turn these pigs loose on her. Hell, she's strong, man; she'll hold her own.

Dr. Gonzo:
Jesus Christ. I knew you were a sick bastard but I never expected to hear you actually say that kind of stuff, you filthy bastard.

Raoul Duke:
Straight economics. This girl is a God-send. Shit, she can make us a grand a day.

Dr. Gonzo:
That's ugly, man. Stop talking like that.

Raoul Duke:
I figure she can do about four at a time. If we keep her full of acid that's more like two grand a day. Maybe three.

Dr. Gonzo:
Hold on, man. What if I just jump you and beat the dog shit out of you? Would that make you feel better? You filthy bastard.

Raoul Duke:
Alright listen to men. In a few hours, she'll probably be sane enough to work herself into a towering Jesus-based rage at the hazy recollection of being seduced by some kind of cruel Samoan who fed her liquor and LSD, dragged her to a Vegas hotel room and then savagely penetrated every orifice in her body with his throbbing, uncircumcised member.

Dr. Gonzo:
That's so ugly, man!

Raoul Duke:
Fuck. Truth hurts.

Dr. Gonzo:
That's, argh! Argh! That's argh! Argh! That's argh!

Raoul Duke:
Well, you'll go straight to the gas chamber for this one. And even if you manage to beat that, they'll send you back to Nevada for rape and consensual sodomy. She's got to go.

Dr. Gonzo:
Shit. It doesn't pay to help someone these days.

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