Semi-biographical film based on the experiences of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.
Release Year: 1980
Rating: 6.4/10 (5,494 voted)
Stars: Peter Boyle, Bill Murray, Bruno Kirby
The deranged adventures of Gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson and his attorney Oscar Acosta, referred to in the movie as "Laslow". Thompson attempts to cover the Super Bowl and the 1972 Presidential election in his typical drug-crazed state, but it continually and comically sidetracked by his even more twisted friend Laslow. Allegedly based on actual events.
Writers: Hunter S. Thompson, John Kaye
Hunter S. Thompson
(as René Auberjonois)
(as De Wayne Jessie)
Quinn K. Redeker
(as Quinn Redeker)
Based on the twisted legend of Hunter S. Thompson
Release Date: 25 April 1980
Opening Weekend: $1,750,593
(27 April 1980)
Did You Know?
Ralph Steadman, who did illustrations for Thompson's books, drew the title cards for this movie.
In the bathroom scene when Murray is washing his shoes out in the sink, then hits them repeatedly against the urinal to get the excess water out, he is wearing glasses but his reflection in the mirror behind the urinals isn't.
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson:
You couldn't invent someone like Carl Lazlo. He was a… he was one of a kind. He was a mutant. A real heavyweight water buffalo type… who could chew his way through a concrete wall and spit out the other side covered with lime and chalk and look good in doing it.
Not true Thompson, but a fun film.
Whether you like this film or not will depend heavily on how big of a Hunter
S. Thompson fan you are.
On the plus side, this film is wickedly funny. Bill Murray (an actor who has
been both great and terrible in his career) does a phenomenal job as the
acid-drenched reporter, bringing chaos into the lives of the rigid and
pretentious. The plot is peppered with "respectable" places being dragged
into mayhem, and "respectable" folks trying (unsuccessfully) to cope behind
It even ventures into some higher themes, such as innocent kids being jailed
by a heartless criminal system, and Thompson's own struggles between being a
practical reporter and a fun-loving idealist (notice how Lazlo repeatedly
re-surfaces just when Thompson starts to take on "real"
It's biggest fault, however, was that it failed to achieve any of the higher
accomplishments of HST's writings. What makes Thompson such a powerful
writer (to me, anyway) is the way he'll often turn on a dime and deliver
stunningly sober dialogs on the human animal and where he's gone wrong.
Nestled in the midst of the wine, women, and song are soliloquies that drive
home a more positive message, and none of those made it into this film (in
fact, no significant chunks of actual text from HST's books appeared at
all). It's like they shaved off the surface 50% of Thompson's work and
discarded the rest.
Compare this to Fear and Loathing, which was darker and more
counter-cultural, and contained whole narrations excerpted from the novel.
The latter perhaps has less appeal to the average viewer, but I'd think more
to a Thompson fan.
All-in-all, this film is a light-hearted romp into anarchy, and worth
watching. But if you've never actually READ Thompson, do so, as this movie
doesn't accurately represent him.