I love this movie, the Johnny Depp one. The film is perfect. I think it captures Hunter and that era of his life perfectly. Johnny Depp goes so deep into Hunter’s persona it’s a wonder he ever made it out. I can tell you how I think he did it, too. Not just the craft of acting, he lived with Hunter. That is no small feat. Even Bill Murray didn’t actually move in with Hunter. Hunter and Depp became close friends during this process, and remained life long friends. The connection was deeper than love of drugs and nonsense and art and great writing and blowing shit up. They are both from Kentucky. I own the 2 disc ‘Criterion Collection’ set, which I highly recommend. It is FULL of hours of featurettes and old Hunter movies. It’s where we learned about Hunter’s absurd funerary request, which Johnny Depp handsomely and famously paid 5 million dollars to make happen.
You know… the one about shooting his ashes out of a Gonzo fist cannon into space after he commits suicide. The footage is from when Hunter is in his 30’s, but 30 years later… he up and went and killed himself… almost as promised.
Let’s talk about the movie for a second. Being a lit grad, and a HUGE fan of Hunter’s writing. I should tell you the movie does the book no justice. Wrong. I mean, you absolutely must read the book… but the movie is fantastic. I think it’s perfect, and could not have done better. Heck, even Hunter himself does a cameo. Probably not as an artistic endorsement so much as to score the per diem, and to keep an eye on the process. Legend goes, he was kicked off his own set for being a wasted pain in the ass. Pretty easy to believe, so I shall.
But this isn’t about that. This is about the movie, and the synopsis I read about it on Rotten Tomatoes. Of course, the movie was slammed by critics. Who cares what the critics think of a movie? Honestly, I NEVER look at that. I want to know what people thought about it. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has an epic discrepancy between the two, perhaps one of the biggest on all of Rotten Tomatoes. Critics gave it at 49%, where fans gave it an 89%. I would argue few people know Hunter’s writing and social impact like me. Hunter is a BIG part of why I moved to Denver, CO… to be closer to him. But this isn’t about that. No sir, this is a quick hit on the review the ‘critics’ left of the movie.
This is almost too perfect. Those words above are meant to be a slam. There is no character development. It’s a long movie… and our protagonist never grows? He never learns? He never changes his way? No sir, he does not. Hunter Thompson defined… nay… deified… that critique. He never grew up. He never sold out. He never played ball. He continued to live his life like a rich petulant 22 year old who got kicked out of the Air Force in a pretty damn funny story. Kicked out for what, you ask? Well… for behaving like a petulant 12 year old who got kicked out of school for savaging a mailbox in a pretty damn funny story. Like… for behaving like a petulant 27 year old who got fired by Time magazine for savagely attacking a candy machine (… in a pretty damn funny story).
No. Hunter never grew up, and certainly never learned from his lessons. He was, by all accounts, a terrible person. As an artist and a writer and hipster deity… the man was a genius. Take that review, and put it no on his movie. No sir, take that review and put it on his headstone.
RIP Hunter, you twisted bastard!