K-PAX review by David Richards
K-PAX is one of those movies that clocks in at more than two hours but doesn't have to.
This is not your standard feature. The screenplay is complex -- immune to cliches -- and leaves us with a handful of questions to ponder. It's just too bad the film takes so long to get to its substance.
The beginning is necessary, the ending is substantial, but for the rest of this blandish and slow film -- bring a magazine or a novel -- you'll need it.
The film stars Kevin Spacey as Prot (the "O" has a long sound), a possible delusional who claims he's from the planet the film is named after, supposedly located near the constellation Lyra.
Co-starring is Jeff Bridges as Dr. Mark Powell, a psychiatrist at the Psychiatric Institute of Manhattan who's boggled by how convincing Prot seems to be.
Powell knows Prot can't really be from K-PAX, or does he? The early conversations where Powell tries to get the truth out of Prot are some of the film's most enjoyable.
Powell is skeptical about Prot at first, but doesn't want to offend him by asking second-guessing questions. Powell's strategy is to get to know Prot, see how much he really knows about this so-called K-PAX, what life is like there, how people communicate, how they breed and then determine from that information if he could in fact come from where he says he does.
The mysterious Prot is first spotted at Grand Central Station. He seems to have come out of nowhere and is taken into custody when he is wrongly accused of being a purse snatcher.
After Prot is given a series of tests and treatments which he seems to be immune to, Dr. Powell's expertise is called upon to see if he can any make sense out of the whole situation.
For a person who can't possibly be from another planet, Prot is pretty believable and for the most part, has Dr. Powell all but convinced. After all, Prot has the ability to communicate with dogs and knows integral details about orbits that astronomers barely know exist.
The ending to K-PAX isn't conclusive, unlike 1996's Phenomenon, another film about a human with incredible abilities. This film leaves a lot of things open for discussion and the possibilities seem as endless as the 1,000 light years K-PAX is located away from Earth.
From several reviews I've read on K-PAX, critics are pointing to the Spacey and Bridges as to what makes this film work. I'm not so sure I would agree. Spacey and Bridges do very well, but there are a handful of other actors who could pull off those roles as well. Donald Sutherland, for instance, could have been equally impressive as Dr. Powell and John Cusack doing the same for Prot.
The magic of K-PAX is instead performed by the hands of screenwriter Charles Leavitt (The Mighty), who adapts the film brilliantly from the 1995 novel by Gene Brewer.
With the exception of the slow second act, K-PAX is an original, worthwhile film, one that's as intriguing to think about in the theater as it is once we've come out.
**** K-PAX is rated PG-13 for a sequence of violent images, and language, and sensuality