K-PAX, a ONE ALIEN FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST story, concerns a being who
may or may not be human and who goes by the name of Prot. Prot is played in
another wonderful performance by Kevin Spacey who gives his all to what is
essentially a one-note character. Jeff Bridges plays Prot's examining
psychiatrist, Dr. Mark Powell.
As in the recent HAPPY ACCIDENTS, in which the central character might be a
time-traveler or just a wacko, Prot may be an alien, a crazy alien or just
crazy. As the story develops, it isn't quite clear where it is headed and
to what extent it will resolve the central issues it poses. Will it, like
the film LIMBO, leave most of the audience frustrated with its lack of
resolution, or will the answers be spelled out with some clarity? As the
movie evolves, most will probably hope to learn that Prot is exactly what he
claims to be, a guy from another planet who has mastered flying at seven
times the speed of light.
Asked by the cops who first find him to take off his sunglasses, he tells
them that he'd rather not since "Your planet is really bright." Prot, who
looks sort of like a homeless guy, has hypersensitive eyesight which allows
him to see even ultraviolet light. He also has some amazing astronomical
"Let's hope extraterrestrials qualify for Medicaid," Mark comments when he
first gets the bizarre case. Prot is disarmingly funny. He tries to
reassure the doc by telling him, "Don't worry. I'm not going to leap out of
your chest." Another time, as he munches on a banana like an elephant,
eating peel and all, Prot says smiling, "Your produce alone is worth the
worth the trip."
K-PAX, directed clumsily by Iain Softley (HACKERS and THE WINGS OF THE
DOVE), meanders when it should stay focused and has trouble making the shift
from the relatively comedic first half to the more serious second. The
movie's two leads, Spacey and Bridges, are quite good, but the supporting
cast isn't. Mary McCormack, in particular, brings nothing to the part of
Our audience broke into applause at the end so they must have really liked
it. In the car afterwards, I heard various interpretations of the story,
especially the ending, from my wife and son. Personally, I would have
preferred a slightly different ending resolution, but the one chosen is
fairly satisfying. Suffice it to say that you will have things to talk
about on the drive home.
K-PAX runs a little too long at 2:05. It is rated PG-13 for "a sequence of
violent images, and brief language and sensuality" and would be acceptable
for kids around 11 and up.
My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave the film ***. He thought the plot was very,
very interesting, and he liked the twists along the way. On the other hand,
he disagreed vehemently with his mother, who thought it was a great film.
He liked it but not near as much as she did.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes