Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Drive-by review: K-Pax

Kevin Spacey plays Prot who is from K-Pax (or IS he?) and who gets picked up by the NY police and then sent to the looney bin.

Unlike most of this sort of movie where we are taught the truths that only the gentle inmates can see, this actually focuses mostly on whether Prot is really an alien and the psychiatrist's (Jeff Bridges) efforts to solve the mystery of what trauma caused him to form such a perfect false persona to hide behind. Also, we see Jeff Bridges' alienation from his family due to work and generally being a jerk to his wife (no wonder she is his second one) ... this part is fairly shallow and predictable.

For me the most interesting thing was whether Prot was an alien or not. Well acted, well shot, and well edited.


  1. I remember being absolutely moved and fascinated by this movie.

    It's funny you mentioned the shallow, predictable side story about Jeff Bridge's family. I don't even remember that story line in the movie. Guess it wasn't memorable.

  2. I agree; there is just enough fuzzy evidence to keep you wondering if he's an alien or not.

    I forget where in the movie, but Prot expounds on making mistakes:

    I wanna tell you something…, something you do not yet know…. The universe will expand, then it will collapse back on itself, then will expand again. It will repeat this process forever. What you don’t you know is that when the universe expands again, everything will be as it is now. Whatever mistakes you make this time around, you will live through on your next pass. Every mistake you make, you will live through again, and again, forever. So my advice to you is to get it right this time around, because this time is all you have.

    [potential spoiler alert]

    The air of mystery of being an alien lends to a false sense of superior information about reality. There is some truth in it, but essentially this statement describes hell. And now that I think about it, this gives a deep insight into who Prot is and why he acts the way he does.

  3. Oh wow, CowPi, you're right. Hmm, I think I'll have to watch this movie again. It's been years. Maybe I'll have new perspective.

    Spoiler Alert... kind of-

    I had thought he was a mix of the guy he was inhabiting and an alien, but when you put that spin on his alien insight, I think no, he was no alien.


    I went and read the Wikipedia page about K-Pax and discovered there was a trilogy of books. The movie was made based on the first and evidently followed it very closely although something changed about the ending, I believe they said.

    Anyway, in the book, Prot was an alien who "shared" (somehow) the human body and when he left it, taking the girl instead back to K-Pax, then the previous host was left catatonic. Which made sense in the movie's context since he had tried to commit suicide.

    I believed Prot was an alien simply by virtue of the scientist showing that the tests proved he could see in ultraviolet. Also ... his banana eating was most convincing. Most. convincing! :-D

    Nice insight into the repeat mistakes thing and Hell analogy. Though, myself, I didn't believe Prot knew all that he thought he knew. Based on his freak-out over the kid and water, which was clearly influenced by his experiences with his human friend. So ... that was my take on it.

  5. Julie, interesting. So, he is an alien. Well- two things at work here... well three.

    1- The movie may not be exactly like the book. Okay, I guess that's an obvious one. :?

    2- As you pointed out, Prot didn't know all he thought he knew. Just because he's an alien and can travel far, doesn't mean he knows all about the universe. He might just be an arrogant guy with wild ideas who happens to have access to kick-tail science and likes to travel (and inhabit the bodies of depressed people who seem to influence his own mind... seems a bad idea actually)

    3- The writer of the book/movie has their own view of the universe and they simply see it as small micro-hells within a larger hell. You see sad miserable lives and a universe that makes people relive them forever. And the wise alien comes to earth to point out this fact.

    You know, the more I think about it, the more I wonder why I liked this movie so well. Of course now I am burning to watch it again.

  6. I am so used to reading sf that is fatalistic that I didn't even blink at the fact that the book had that concept of repetition. Don't like it. Don't agree with it. But some fantastic stories are written with a rotten worldview. And I LOVE sf.

    It was a good movie. I liked it and I added it to my Good Story podcast list for us to watch and discuss.