K-PAX the movie is a mixed-bag: comedy, melodrama, sci-fi and unadulterated schmaltz, all tied together with a
ending that raises more questions than it answers. Coincidentally, it happens to be well-made, and there's a message hidden in the film that in these trying times is
perhaps even more resonant.
Kevin Spacey delivers yet another in a series of calculated, competant roles as prot, the being from another planet. Spacey has always brought a certain je ne sais quoi1 to every role he's touched,
and that hasn't changed here. Spacey's prot is an energetic and believable invention; one minute, he's
downing an entire banana, the next he's, rather convincingly, disputing physical
laws. His description of K-PAXian reproductive methods makes for great comedy; his revelations, made under a tightly-watched hypnosis section, manage to be genuinely touching.
Jeff Bridges' role is somewhat trickier. Playing both family man and workaholic would be taxing on regular folk, but throw into the mix a self-professed stranger from a strange land, and the stress multiplies tenfold.
Bridges is able to convey all the stress and all the doubt that this situation creates, and in the end, learns a thing or two about himself. This makes up for much of the aforementioned schmaltz, and it's to the credit of the filmmakers that it doesn't collapse the entire film.
And about that ending...the movie invests a lot of time into revealing secrets about prot, even going so far as to have the dear doctor trek to New Mexico to unlock these secrets. Then, with time winding down, the movie does a 360, reaching a conclusion that still leaves the viewer with doubts: "was he or wasn't he?", among them.
Nonetheless, K-PAX is an entertaining two hours that, if nothing proves that Kevin Spacey can do no wrong.
: go to http://www.salon.com/ent/music/vowe/1998/07/27vowe.html