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At Theaters: 5/22/1998 On Video: 11/17/1998
Rated: R Length: 2 hr. 15 min.
Internet: Web Site Movie ID: 059811
Studio: Universal Pictures Inc.
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Storyline Heading

The story follows journalist Raoul Duke and his partner in high living, Dr. Gronzo as they embark on a savagely funny journey down a road that runs a not so straight and narrow path into the heart of the American dream.

Movie Type (Genre) Heading
Drama - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is bound to be more popular years from now as a cult film than it will be in its initial release. Directed by Terry Gilliam (Twelve Monkeys, Brazil) and co-written by Alex Cox (Repo Man), it contains the kind of bizarre situations and stream-of-consciousness story which will appeal to a very limited audience. The extreme situations and graphic depictions of drug abuse will be too unpleasant for mainstream audiences. Fans of the book, however, should be satisfied by the tone, the performances and the general fidelity to the source material.
Cast and Crew Heading
Johnny Depp (Donnie Brasco)
Benicio del Toro (Excess Baggage)
Director: Terry Gilliam (The Fisher King)
Production Notes Heading
About The Production
Let The Games Begin
The Last Wrap-Up
Content Heading
PROFANITY: Extremely strong and frequent
SEX/NUDITY: Some pictures of bare breasts, references to sexual acts
VIOLENCE: Hallucinatory images of gore and blood
DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Near constant use of drugs and alcohol
ACTION: A few brief car chases
COMEDY: Bizarre images from drug-induced fantasies, absurdist humor

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Critic's Review Heading
Above Average
Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is about as faithful an adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's 1971 "gonzo journalism" classic as I can imagine…though that's not necessarily a good thing. The book has long been called "unfilmable," which probably referred more to whether it should be made than whether it could be made. As it happens, Fear and Loathing on film is nearly an event-for-event re-creation of the book, following two kindred spirits who ingest every possible controlled substance during a wild spree through Vegas circa 1971. It's disgusting, perverse, incoherent, and sometimes very funny. It's also too visually literal an adaptation of a book best left to a twisted imagination.
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Opinion Heading

Based on an Exit Polling of 153 Moviegoers

Ages Age Group
Your Probability of
Enjoying This Movie
Movie To Friends
13-19Teens (M)
13-19Teens (F)
About 50/50
20-29Yg Adults (M)
20-29Yg Adults (F)
30+Adults (M)
Fairly High
30+Adults (M)
30+Adults (F)
Fairly High
*Possible Ratings: Very High, High, Fairly High, About 50/50, Fairly Low, Low, Very Low.

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The United States of America.

It was the worst of times. It was the worst of times.

Nixon was still in the White House. America was still in Vietnam.

The year began with the aftershocks of the Beatles' break­up and a big earthquake in Southern California. It ended with Time naming President Richard Milhous Nixon "Man of the Year," depicted on the cover in the form of an angry, impatient papier­mache bust, a collage of scary headlines about the state of the union.

The '60s were over, pronounced dead at Altamont, a free Rolling Stones concert in a motor speedway outside San Francisco where a young black man was stabbed to death by Hell's Angels stage­center to the tune of "Sympathy for the Devil" (coming to a theatre near you in 1971 as "Gimme Shelter"). The peace, love and innocence of Woodstock were history.

Dead, too, were Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, three 27­year­old icons of rock 'n' roll, gone within the space of one year, all attributed to drug overdoses. In a secret meeting with President Nixon, Elvis Presley offered his personal services as an undercover narcotics agent.

Good news for many was the death sentence for Charles Manson and three of his girl­gang members for the Tate­LaBianca murders which had augured the apocalyptic end of flower power in 1969. The '60s idealism had fast turned to cynicism-was there another logical alternative?

Bad news for some was Daniel Ellsberg's guerrilla pacifist action, the leak of "The Pentagon Papers," classified information on the Department of Defense's operations in Vietnam, made public in the pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post. Later, we would learn of the bugging of Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office by White House­directed "plumbers" and more devious "dirty tricks" applied to Democratic campaign headquarters at the Watergate.

The American dream was becoming a nightmare. For one very serious journalist, the only sane direction to go was straight over the top and call it "Gonzo."

For sportswriter Raoul Duke and his corpulent Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo, the proud highway leads straight to Las Vegas in a mean crimson convertible dubbed "The Red Shark." Packing a trunk-load of mind­bending pharmaceuticals along with an armory of herbal remedies, they're on a savage journey to the heart of the American Dream.

Duke may call it an assignment. Gonzo may believe it's a sacred mission to protect his client. Whatever "it" is, it's moving, and fast.

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