Hollywood is crazy about aliens. Hollywood is also crazy about deconstructionism, especially if it can involve some crazy people and a little hypnosis. And, unfortunately, Hollywood is crazy enough to propose an amalgam of both.
K-PAX incorporates several annoying ideas we are invited to understand. First, of course, that there are aliens out and about who are excessively more intelligent than we are. And, as expected, this intelligence will be obviated by jargon mostly involving "C" (the constant for the speed of light), astronomy and the throwing around of Einstein's name a lot. A second idea is that a corollary to living on an advanced planet is the deconstruction of all our negacious earthly categories: family, employment, insanity, etc.
All of these ideas are passed along in therapy sessions between Prot, a pompous and endearing K-Paxian played artfully by Kevin Spacey, and Dr. Mark Powell, Jeff Bridges' latest transformation into the head psychiatrist of the Manhattan Psychiatric Institute. The initial sessions are often commandeered either by Prot's cryptic maunder about "light-travel" or his jocular explanations of the essence of K-Pax--a utopia where things can't be so easily dichotomized, a postmodern reverie.
After an ambiguous amount of time, Prot begins to transform Dr. Powell's hospital into normalcy and abnormalcy by convincing everyone that he is, actually, from K-Pax. As patients, aides and doctors begin to share the hope of returning to K-Pax with Prot, everyone starts to be miraculously cured of their ailments--a few obsessive-compulsives stop fearing germs, a manic starts to leave her room and psychosis becomes a delightful little Foucaultian dream. As the sessions go on, however, and Powell becomes closer to Prot, the bewildered psychiatrist discovers a mystery that can only be unveiled by hypnosis, the catharsis of which is just as unsatisfying as the rest of the film's underlying ideas.
The only redeeming moments of K-PAX are the interplays between Spacey and Bridges, who create characters that are beguilingly deep and compelling.
But, finally, the script is too distracting, and one is left desperate in trying to put together all its abstract and borrowed notions.
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