Wednesday, October 31, 2001

K-PAX

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Alienation is universal, whether you’re a psycho from another planet or the psychiatrist assigned to cure him. The question of K-PAX becomes who’s curing whom.

Prot (Kevin Spacey) seems to appear at the end of a dusty shaft of light in the middle of Grand Central Station. He ends up carted to a Manhattan psychiatric institute and added to Dr. Mark Powell’s (Jeff Bridges) roster of two-dimensionally Hollywood mental patients. In his sessions, Prot vividly describes his home planet, K-PAX, as a land almost right out of John Lennon’s utopian “Imagine” — and sneaks in a few clichéd social criticisms on the side. Out in the ward, he’s soon the inmates’ King of Hearts. As he demonstrates an uncanny knowledge of astronomy and changes the lives of his fellow patients and his doctor for the better, questions loom: Who or what is he, and will they find out before his scheduled departure time of 5:51 a.m., July 27?

Is Prot an extraterrestrial or not? Charles Leavitt’s script of Gene Brewer’s novel sits on the fantastic fence of the question, digging plot holes on either side. This causes K-PAX to straddle genres as well. It’s neither the extraterrestrial melodrama of Bridges’ titular Starman (1984) nor the psychological mystery (not a whodunit, but a who-is-it) of Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945): Rather it attempts to have its extraterrestrial and cure him too.

Kevin Spacey returns to the screen as another variation of the highly intelligent, psychologically damaged character that he could patent. His Prot is prismatic down to his beatific Mona Lisa smile (that of an interstellar tourist — or a mental patient on the verge of blissful catatonia?).

But it’s the hackneyed characters and moments that damage this movie. Some of these people and events could only happen on a planet called Hollywood.

Visit the official K-Pax Web site at www.k-pax.com.

E-mail James Keith La Croix at letters@metrotimes.com.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by James Keith La Croix

Read the Digital Print Issue

February 24, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation