One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, minus Nurse Ratched, plus the science fiction genre, equals Iain Softly’s latest film, K-Pax. Starring Kevin Spacey (Prot) and Jeff Bridges (Dr. Mark Powell), K-Pax is an unoriginal psychological drama with a lackluster plot and plenty of flaws.
At Grand Central station, Prot (rhymes with “vote”) arrives by a ray of light only to be apprehended by New York’s finest within minutes. He claims to be from another universe. His outlandish explanations place him in a mental institution and in the hands of Dr. Mark Powell, a respected psychiatrist and troubled family man.
Prot and his explanations of life on his home planet, K-Pax, immediately intrigue Powell. For example, family life does not exist and procreation is a painful experience on K-Pax. Prot’s vast knowledge of astronomy stuns a group of astrophysicists and forces Powell to doubt his own explanations of Prot’s behavior. Could Prot truly be an extraterrestrial?
While at the mental institution, Prot is anything but displaced. His presence brings spontaneity and excitement to the monotonous psychiatric ward. Prot even offers to take one of the patients back with him to K-Pax.
After a Fourth of July cookout with Prot and Dr. Powell’s family and friends, Powell begins to question Prot’s alien origins. The remainder of the movie chronicles Powell’s quest to uncover Prot’s mysterious identity.
Several of K-Pax’s flaws lie within its writing. Although Prot’s dialogue has many elements of witticism, it fails to support a weak story. Likewise, the film leaves many questions unanswered. That ambiguity keeps viewers involved, but sometimes there can be too much of a good thing.
One of the most disappointing aspects of the film is the acting. Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges, two great character actors, are victim to a mediocre script and therefore unable to showcase their talent.
With such elaborate films as The Matrix and The Phantom Menace setting the bar so high for science fiction films, K-Pax unfortunately falls short.