K-PAX

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By Mark Ramsey | 2001/10/24

K-PAX is the kind of movie critics hate to hate and audiences love to love. Take it from me, the guy who entered Entertainment Weekly’s Power List at number infinity plus one.

Is K-PAX the west coast affiliate of PAX TV – that family friendly channel where dirty words can and do go to Heck? Where Ed McMahon still searches for stars? Where Billy Ray Cyrus is a doctor specializing in ear, nose, throat, and mullet? Darn tootin’!

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If aliens sent us a humanoid emissary, Wouldn’t they likely send somebody with more hair and less five o’clock shadow than Kevin Spacey, much like they did with Ricky Martin?

Kevin presumes himself to be an alien who really loves our produce – thus placing him in the same taxonomic category as the Mediterranean Fruit Fly.

As K-PAX opens, an old lady is pushed to the ground. Or maybe it’s an old man. You know how at a certain age it’s hard to tell the difference? Anyway, Kevin goes to help and is hauled off to the funny farm when he exclaims “Your planet is really bright.” Even though our planet really is bright, it’s just our local TV news anchors who are a little dim.

Jeff Bridges is the psychiatrist whose job is to fix Kevin and, as you’d expect, who fixes whom is open for debate. Jeff himself did the alien thing a while back in Starman along with Karen Allen whose career has been extraterrestrial for some years now.

Jeff is a distant dad and remote husband, but he sure knows how to throw a barbeque, because he throws about four of them in this movie. If barbeques were musical numbers K-PAX would be Cats.

Naturally, Jeff’s doctor pals think Kevin is merely a nut, a “convincing delusional,” who needs to be pumped full of drugs. Even after his knowledge of the universe baffles several of the finest elderly astrophysicists the Screen Actor’s Guild can offer.

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This is one of those movies that reminds us how the crazy people are always the sane ones, not to mention the sweet, innocent, harmless and not at all scary ones. No matter how psychotic, dirty, smelly, and ignorant of personal space when soliciting a quarter they may be. Halleluiah!

Kevin even speaks dog. Fluently. “This note rings false,” my dog told me later. “The mise en scène,” she added, slobber dripping from her mouth, “the semantics and syntax of the sequence, the verisimilitude of découpage – they are the nadir of this filmmaker’s oeuvre. Can we take a walk now? I wanna sniff some crap.”

Is Spacey a spaceman or a space-cadet? It doesn’t matter, as it turns out. And what does matter is what this movie is all about.

K-PAX is a warm security blanket for a hypertensive age. Full of mesquite-grilled truths and eternal delights. It may be Capra-corn, but it tastes so good on the cob.


Photos Copyright ©2001 Universal Pictures

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