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Customer Review

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 2 April 2022
Saddling itself with one of the daftest titles of all time, K PAX isn't so much something from a self-build furniture store as an irreparably damaged movie glued together by its own preening self-regard.

Pretty much gibberish from start to finish, it would be unfair to potential viewers to assert that it's somehow 'saved' by the performances of Spaces and Bridges. . .

it isn't. Both actors are at the top of their game, but that's no consolation for everything else , everywhere else, that's sub-standard.

Setting aside its central and, it seems to think, highly original theme that you-don't-know-what-you've-got-'till-it's gone (thanks, Joni!) the story, such as it is, centres upon the man from the planet K Pax (Spacey) and how he comes to visit Earth on a beam of light and because for reasons unknown and unexplored, he possesses an American accent on his home planet, chooses New York as his destination, where, being a complete stranger, he merits the typical Manhattan assessment that he may be a raving lunatic, and is promptly carted off to a psychiatric hospital.

There he meets up with Bridges, a psychiatrist (allegedly) of such blazing incompetence that he befriends Spacey, takes him home to meet the family, and even breaks patient confidentiality by discussing Spacey with friends and neighbours. Seeing how no-one could possibly be that clueless and not be thrown off the Practitioners' Registry it's no wonder the script has such a hard time of it, trying to get you to believe Bridges is credible and Bridges is genuine, rather than being an alien (or a raving loony) himself.

Hence the plaudits for the performances of the two leads here: Spacey, playing a laconic mystery man for all it's worth, Bridges playing the earnest puzzled dedicated medical man, the two of them initially bonding thanks to sharing the same accent even though it never once occurs to Bridges to ask the dazzlingly obvious question of Spacey: that accent of yours, is it West Coast or East Coast K-PAX?

High point (almost literally) of the relationship between the two is when Bridges arranges for Spacey to visit the Planetarium, there to explain to a small audience of suitably baffled astro-physicists the orbital pattern of his home planet and its relationship with others in the same constellation. Spacey does so with surprising ease, impressing the gathered experts with a display of knowledge of the 'he-couldn't-possibly know-all-that-unless-he's-an-alien' kind.

So yup. K Pax man is an alien. Which could well be worth expanding further, but no: the movie (and for all I know, the book from which it has been taken) now has a bemused Bridges searching for an explanation of 'something-must've-happened-in-the-past' to have made Spacey believe himself to be from K PAX. (You can tell Bridges is brighter than yer average Joe: having presumably noticed Spacey's unmissable American accent, he's wise to confine his research to the USA and not the entire globe.)

With absolutely nothing in the way of sensible reason or justifying logic in his strategy, Bridges decides to 'regress' Spacey exactly 5 years via hypnotism, as a result of which the movie's predictably sad blood-drenched core is uncovered: a murdered mum, her murdered daughter, and a suicidal Spacey trying to drown himself in a river in a remote spot somewhere in New Mexico.

Amidst all this piling up of morbid cliches there's even the Numero Uno All -American cliche to add to the mix: Bridges actually finds a 'High School Year Book', that noxious bit of precocious Americana to which Western audiences are all supposed to favourably respond. And look! there's a picture (unrecognizable) of some student called Porter. Who must, thinks Bridges, absolutely MUST be Spacey the Transported.

So then. . . How does a murderous psycho from a New Mexico High School Year Book get to be so expert an authority on astro-physics and motion dynamics in a mere 5 years?
Alternatively: how does an alien from Planet K-Pax 1000 light years from Earth get to be an angst-filled murderous psycho from a backwoods town in New Mexico?

If any answer is forthcoming, it isn't one I discerned from the hopeless audio on the Prime screening I was viewing. Reaching for the remote and maxing out the TV volume might possibly have solved that problem, but K-PA X wasn't interesting enough to merit even an effort as minimal as that.

With an ending positively laughable in its Hollywood mawkishness -- Bridges re-united with his grown up son all thanks to the not-so Wise Words of Spacey; Bridges in his garden with a 'home' telescope peering up into a night sky in search of something so far distant it could only ever be detected via radio wave analysis, Bridges pushing Spacey around in a wheelchair after Spacey has collapsed and turned catatonic before Scotty has beamed him up. . .

Oh dear. Oh dear. Fun stuff this ain't. Nor is it in any way important --though those connected with it might once have liked to think so. The treatment by the moviemakers of the movie's audience is only marginally less crass and less exploitative than the movie's treatment of folks with mental health problems.

A deserved commercial failure, inevitably adored by the gullible, but a test of patience and a waste of time to everyone else, K PAX lingers on all these years after its release, as a movie devoid of any earthly reason to bother watching.
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