Breakfast With Hunter Movie Review

"Breakfast" for Hunter S. Thompson means a tray full of uneaten food and a large glass of ice filled with Chivas Regal.

With the meal out of the way, we can sit down to the rest of this documentary, a rough and unpolished chronicle of a few years in Thompson's life, roughly 1996-1998, during the planning and making of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Director Wayne Ewing must be great friends with the notorious writer, as he appears to have unhindered access to the minutiae of Hunter's life. In addition to the various meetings (lots of honorary dinners, lots of speeches in his honor, a handful of public appearances), we go behind the scenes -- most notably to bear witness to his squabbles with Repo Man director Alex Cox, the original director of Fear and Loathing, who wants to have a cartoon opening to the movie.

Ewing also trots out archival footage, including Thompson's famous run for sheriff of Aspen, Colorado. Later we're on the set of Fear and Loathing (you can see similar or identical footage of Hunter's cameo on the Criterion Collection DVD).

Do we get to know the real Hunter through viewing Breakfast with Hunter? Possibly. More than ever before, at least -- the mushmouthed creator of gonzo journalism isn't known for his accessibility, so every little bit helps. Unfortunately, this fairly low-grade video comes off as a slightly more professional home movie about the man and less a Crumb-style documentary (the reigning gold standard of oddity documentaries). The camera jumps around, the sound is atrocious, the editing is random. Hunter's greatest hits are explored (including a fun bit when he discharges a fire extinguisher at Rolling Stone publisher and legendary blowhard Jann Wenner), but that nugget of true Thompson is still hard to dig out. Still, we know it's in there, somewhere.

Perhaps then the DVD extras will help the disciple de Hunter to find the real Thompson within. In keeping with history, he and Ewing offer a commentary track, but Thompson jets after about 30 minutes. (Note to self: Never "take a break" for any purpose when interviewing the skittish.) Countless outtakes explore various lesser known works, the nature of gonzo journalism, and more (including what actually happened to Oscar Acosta, Hunter's attorney, who disappeared in the 1970s). P.J. O'Rourke, oddly, appears in nearly all of these.


Breakfast With Hunter Rating

" Good "

Rating: NR, 2003


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