He is an alien; he is a mental patient. Not many actors can pull off a character that teeters on brilliance and insanity, but Kevin Spacey is definitely one who can. Teamed with Jeff Bridges, the two carry K-PAX, a sci-fi drama, to success.
When I say carry, I do mean that those two actors carry the movie. K-PAX, alone, can be considered a moderately good movie, one of those films that you can sit down on the couch and watch with friends. And rented from the video store. But with the performances delivered in K-PAX, especially (no surprise) by Spacey, K-PAX is worth a theatrical viewing, because you may very well see him getting nominated for yet another award.
Spacey's performance is no where as dominating as it was in American Beauty, or as slick as in The Usual Suspects, but he definitely has a likeable aura about him as the mysterious Prot. At times he convinces you that he is an alien, and then at other times he seems as though he is in the right place, in a mental hospital. However, not for one second does he disappoint; Spacey especially shines during the hypnosis scenes.
K-PAX is moderately funny, fairly entertaining, and actually quite suspenseful, as the mystery slowly unfolds over the course of the film. Bridges does a good job as the skeptical psychiatrist, who can't decide whether his patient is telling the truth or not. The movie throws some good and rather dark twists into the fold, but at the same time does not surprise the audience by disappointing them. I think most people will be pleased with the ending.
The thing that hurts this subtle little drama is that it is just moderate in just about everything, except for acting. The script is pretty good, but the funny parts are only somewhat worth laughing at. Some of the best parts of the film are shown in the previews, so when they show up in the theater, the audience's reactions are mixed. Again, Spacey does a good job, but some of the more dramatic scenes are contrasted by Prot's to-the-point style of talking. And then, haven't we seen similar mental hospital scenes in other movies, like Awakenings, for instance.
K-PAX is a pretty decent movie with great acting, and a fairly entertaining plot. In terms of scene-by-scene development, the movie suffers a little bit, lacking the charisma that most people are expecting from Spacey playing an "alien." Still, it's a fun movie, and I think people will be delighted by the way it turns out.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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