With an estimated budget of $68 million K-PAX managed to sit atop the box office this week 20 years ago while only earning back $65 million in total. While I had never seen this movie I can see how it ended up with an audience score of 75% despite only earning a 42% on the Tomatometer. The movie follows the story of Dr. Mark PowellI(Bridges) who is determined to treat and help a psychiatric patient Prot(Spacey) who, at times, makes Powell question himself and how he is living his life.
I had never even heard of this movie so to say it was an experience for me might be a bit of an understatement. While this movie is not the most outstanding movie in the careers of Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey I am a bit surprised as to how little attention it gets in pop culture conversation(though this may just be my own personal blind spot). To me the best thing they did was start the movie and introduce the characters the way they did. The intro of Prot allowed the story to be built and told in such a way that lets your mind wander into a space where you start believing that Prot might actually be more than a mental patient.
This movie is an ideal “what do you think?” type of movie to have a conversation with some friends about. On one hand they provide plenty of evidence that Prot was a real person who experienced a terrible tragedy, attempted suicide, and completely dissociated because of it. Then on the other hand this is labeled as a sci fi movie because Prot is shown to be a person who has amazing astronomical knowledge that makes a psychologist question if he is actually an alien being.
No matter where you land or what you end up thinking about Prot this movie ends up being a bit of a social piece about how one should face their issues head on and appreciate what we have instead of trying to distract ourselves with something else. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it and will likely watch it again in the future.
While this movie is 20 years old, I’m not sure that much would have to be done to remake it today. There are a few scenes where cell phones or some other things like the computer and web browser jumped out as being outdated but I didn’t find anything overly problematic that couldn’t just be carried over.
I don’t know as though this movie NEEDS to be remade but I think it could be quite successfully done. While this movie has quite a few people that show up I think the only two who are really worth putting effort into talking about are Dr Powell and Prot.
Dr Powell: Jeff Bridges was a great cast for this movie to play a mid to late 40’s dad who has been divorced, remarried, and now has issues which lead to burying himself in his work. Honestly the person who came to my mind first was Will Smith. We all know the abilities and range he has, he would absolutely crush this role….but that lame and way too simple. I think I’ll go with Idris Elba. He commands a presence when he’s on screen, I can’t think of a time I’ve ever wanted to see less of him in a movie, and I feel like he’s been mostly relegated to support roles for some reason and I’d like to see him in another main character role.
Prot: Spacey has a great ability to play an odd, sometimes aloof, but sometimes very serious role such as this. Since we needed someone that has a lot of range even within a scene I immediately thought of Paul Rudd, he may be older than Spacey was at the time but he doesn’t really look it and age isn’t super crucial anyway. You can look at lots of his performances but I would point to his recent work in the MCU as Ant Man for how well he can play aloof, goofy, and serious all together.