Tuesday, October 30, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 49


Kevin gets 'spacey' as illegal alien in 'K-PAX'

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges
* (out of five stars)
MPAA rating: PG-13
Universal Pictures

Kevin Spacey stars in K-PAX, which opened Friday in theaters across the country.

Ken Regan/Universal Pictures

Prot (Kevin Spacey) meets with a group of astronomers and astrophysicists in the new film, K-PAX. Spacey's performance will satisfy,but the film will leave you wanting more.

Spacey gives an incredible performance as Prot, a mysterious patient in a psychiatric ward who claims he is
an alien from the planet K-Pax, "about a thousand of your light years from here."

Jeff Bridges co-stars as Dr. Mark Powell, a psychiatrist treating Prot.

Bridges seems to be reacting more than acting during most of the movie. Bridges seems confused as to why
he's in this movie and waits for Spacey to pick up the scenes.

Director Iain Softley seems torn. The first half of the movie is spent convincing the audience Spacey is an
alien, the second half convincing us Spacey is human, then he changes his mind twice in the last three
minutes of the film.

The audience is also preached an interesting doctrine -- you should believe the mental ward patient who
claims to be an alien, not the well-respected, trustworthy figures of authority who are simply trying to help.

At times, Prot comes off as downright arrogant, making it hard to like the otherwise fascinating character.

Perhaps the most jarring part of the movie is the cinematography.

The camera movement is reminiscent of an episode of NYPD Blue. A rushed scene near the end follows
Powell as he races through the hospital, desperately trying to engage an audience that wasn't interested.

The movie clocks in at just one hour, 24 minutes, but seems twice that long. The first 45 minutes go through a
tedious outlining of the situation the movie is based around.

The second half has more action in it, but still struggles to move along.

Some of the best scenes in the movie come from the other patients in the mental ward. Prot's optimistic
speeches about life on K-Pax inspire his fellow patients.

The patients are literally insane and their quirks make them genuinely interesting characters, unlike some of
the sane characters in the film.

A tired and uninteresting subplot involves Powell's troubled home life. He spends too much time at work and
ignores his young and very attractive wife and their young children. He also has a son from his first marriage
with whom he never speaks.

The ending of the flick seems like a trite attempt to tie up some loose ends and leaves the audience more
relieved that the film is over than pleased at the conclusion.

Unfortunately, this movie will likely get some strong, and decidedly undeserved, consideration at the Oscar
awards. Spacey is a top-notch actor stuck in a second-grade film, desperately trying to raise the movie to his

Go see K-PAX for Spacey's performance, but don't expect a great movie. The ultra-slow pacing and sappy
story line don't make for great cinema, but the money is worth it just to see Spacey work his magic.

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