Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Review Date:
Director: Terry Gilliam
Writer: Tod Davies, Alex Cox
Producers: Patrick Cassavetti, Laila Nabulsi, Stephen Nemeth
Johnny Depp
Benicio Del Toro
Writer Thompson (Depp) heads down to Las Vegas with his attorney Dr. Gonzo (Del Toro) to cover a motorcycle race. During their trip, they systematically consume “two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half-full of cocaine, a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers, a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls. The movie presents us with the results of that heavy drug use.
Having said that, JoBlo did engage in an alcohol-based consumatory session before (and during) the viewing of this film, so his critique of the film should be appreciated on that level. This movie relies heavily on style and peculiar humour, rather than substance or plot. It moves admirably from one scene to the next, without much basis of their being, while presenting us with the two days in the life of writer Hunter S. Thompson during which he seemed to consume more drugs and alcohol than anyone could ever imagine. It was 1971, and the times were apparently “a’ changing” in the States

Johnny Depp chews into his role like an overgrown child sucking on a chocolate lollipop. During the filming, Depp apparently become fast friends with real-life writer Thompson, and was known to wander off the set from time to time, for the sake of checking out the newest barmaid at the local watering hole. I thought he did seem to exaggerate his walk a little bit too much, but then again, this movie is supposed to be a wild exaggeration of everything and anything, so who am I to talk.

The one thing that did blow my mind was the actual physical transformation endured by actor Benicio Del Toro for his role as Dr. Gonzo. I couldn’t believe that this fat, Samoan lawyer, was the same guy who played the slick mumbling criminal in THE USUAL SUSPECTS (7/10). Word on the street is that gained over 40 pounds for this role, and I must say that his look was deliciously reprehensible. Plenty of cameos also pepper this kaleidoscopic moving picture in the form of Ellen Barkin, Christina Ricci, Tobey Maguire and Cameron Diaz, along with a bunch of others.

Other than that, the soundtrack was expectedly eclectic, the style was not as wild as I thought it would be, and the ending was certainly not much of a barn-burner, but then again, who really noticed. This movie is about visions of bats floating through your head, Johnny Depp looking goofy and being bald, and the cornucopia of drug-ravaged scenes filling your own intoxicated system with ideas of anarchy, rebellion and the lost American Dream. And for all those who plan on seeing this movie without the partnership of a mean drink or a mighty doobie, I suggest you move further down the aisle, buy yourself a ticket to GODZILLA (4/10), and enjoy the visual fabrications manufactured for the unstimulated mind.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian