Apparently, we humans just suck.
Every time an alien being from another world drops by, they either do all they can to wipe us out or shake their head sadly and tell us how it's just amazing we haven't blown ourselves up due to how completely barbaric a people we are.
It's enough to give a species a complex.
Just once I'd like some spaceship to gently land on someone's front lawn and bring us a tall three-headed, green-skinned creature that has always dreamed of joining us here on Earth because not only are we the coolest race in the galaxy, but the joy of the Atari 2600 is known throughout the universe (light speed being what it is, word of the N64 or PS2 hasn't made it out there, in fact, they're just now hearing about Intellivision).
The latest alien to judge us is Prot (pronounced like 'the floating goat sank the boat in the moat'), the "Look at me, I'm Corey Hart with my sunglasses at night!" little alien from the planet K-PAX.
Prot arrives on Earth and is promptly sent to a mental institution. Nice welcome. Thing is, Prot doesn't seem to mind. He falls into the care of a very human Jeff Bridges, who begins to debate whether his new patient is an alien from outer space or a complete fruitcake. Therein lies the dilemma: E.T. or nutjob? There is a fine line between intergalactic philosopher and straight-jacketed lunatic, and Spacey does a marvelous job walking the line. He smiles at everyone. He says quirky things that only aliens would say, like "You look nice, today" or "I like fruit." He sits in trees. Very strange.
Then he says he's leaving Earth on July 27th and all of his fellow One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest extras start jumping over each other to make sure Prot takes them to K-PAX with him. Meanwhile, Doc. Bridges continues to unravel the truth or lack thereof and everything comes to a nice little head.
Once you get over the initial disappointment that a film called K-PAX isn't some kind of New Adventures of Superman flick ("Jor-El, we must now send our second cousin, K-PAX, to Earth to help Kal-El!"), K-PAX is a pretty darned good flick. Kevin Spacey is always a joy to watch, and this is no exception. He makes us feel human just watching him. And of course we get all warm and fuzzy when he tells us to look for the bluebird of happiness. Never knew that was the secret of pure joy, did you?
Meanwhile, Jeff Bridges gets to spend the entire movie staring at the back of Kevin's head thinking "I did this much better in Starman."
It's not a perfect movie, but then, what movie, besides Babe, is perfect?
What the film needs is a sense of impending doom. Prot is gonna go home on July 27th. And when that happens...he'll... come back and blow up the planet!! Yeah!! Or...he'll...kidnap a hundred thousand humans and bring them all back to K-PAX to be slaves!!! Woo!!!
Or maybe he'll just go home.
Or maybe he's not an alien.
The possibilities are endless.
Which may be the coolest thing about K-PAX, the possibilities are, indeed, endless. Possibilities for the story, possibilities for the characters, possibilities for the human race. Heavy stuff.
Unlike some other "Hey, we should just try to be nice to people!" movies of late, this one doesn't try to drill the message into your brain with a jackhammer. The message is there, don't get me wrong. Prot brings about goodness in humanity and family reunions and all sorts of warm fuzzy feelings. But there is mystery, there is humor, there is the sight of a man eating a banana, peel and all.
K-PAX picks up an interstellar 4 1/8 Babylons. It's the feel-good movie of October.
The SMC and I saw this at 11:05 am on Sunday in Burbank, CA. The SMC insisted on wearing his Darth Vader mask and carried a sign that said "We are not alone." God help us if any Brunching fans saw us...
Directed By: Iain Softley
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Mary McCormack, Alfre Woodard, the under-appreciated Ajay Naidu and a bunch of drooling loons.