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Comedy - Adult

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Duration1h 58m
RatingsUK: 18, USA: R, Spain: 18, Singapore: R21,
Source of storyA book of the same name by Hunter S. Thompson
DirectorTerry Gilliam
Writers/ScriptTerry Gilliam, Toni Grisoni, Tod Davies, Alex Cox
StarringJohnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Tobey Maguire, Mark Harmon, Verne Troyer, Gary Busey, Christina Ricci, Harry Dean Stanton, Ellen Barkin, Cameron Diaz,
RatingsIMDb: 7.6 by 257,562 people. Rotten Tomatoes: 49% by 69 critics.

Elevator Pitch: It is 1971, and Raoul Duke accompanied by his friend Dr Gonzo make their way to Las Vegas where Duke is to report on a motor cycle race, the Mint 400. The task is soon forgotten as the two descend into a drug fuelled hell involving the trashing of their various hotel rooms and the destruction of a number of hire cars. 

Content: There is not much of a story but quite a bit of content. No nudity, but it seems possible that one lizard in a bar was having sex with another. Also some quite graphic dialogue at one point, involving a girl who Dr Gonzo has collected somehow and who is on an LSD trip. At the start the two pick up a hitchhiker, who later leaps out of the car and runs away. Some scenes of erratic driving in the desert, and one car chase involving a highway patrolman. But most of the time spent in various hotel rooms which are gradually trashed.

A View: Critics were divided about the movie, Roger Ebert, usually mild in his criticism, called it “disgraceful”, others seem to have enjoyed it. I came to it without any previous knowledge and after the first hour of complete madness was minded to abandon it, which would have been a first in my film reviewing career. But I held on and once Dr Gonzo has departed the script settled down a bit, it could have been just a breathing space. But despite the fact that I found watching the whole thing difficult, and have no experience of drug taking except for alcohol, I felt a curious glow of satisfaction as the credits rolled. So if you have read this you might or might not venture into the movie’s world.

Additional info: Terry Gilliam fell out with the Writers Guild of America who insisted on retaining the names of Alex Cox, and Tod Davies in the credits.  

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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