Friday, December 20, 2013

Where the Buffalo Roam

Long before Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas became a film, there was Where the Buffalo Roam.  Made in 1980, it was an attempt to make a film out of Hunter S. Thompson's obituary for Oscar Zeta Acosta.  It stars Bill Murray as Thompson, which is why I'm reviewing it.

The film doesn't truly have a plot as much as it is just Thompson looking back at three moments in his life where he interacted with his friend, in the film named Carl Lazlo.  Lazlo is an attorney in the beginning, and he's on the side of the youth culture in the late 60s.  We see him defending young kids who were busted for marijuana possession, and then we fast forward to four years later when he is no longer an attorney and instead a freedom fighter trying to help an unnamed Latin American country.  Thompson runs into him one more time when covering the 1972 presidential election where he ends up getting Thompson thrown off the press plane.  In between these moments we see Thompson under the heavy influence of drugs and alcohol messing with people, speaking at a university, and just being his weird self.

I have to admit, I'm not a particularly big fan of Thompson or his style.  It's a little too out there for me, and a little too drug addled to be interesting.  I enjoyed the film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but that was primarily because it did a good job of showing us just what Thompson was seeing while under the influence, and also had a decent amount of humor to it.  Where the Buffalo Roam doesn't have either of those things.  The one scene that is at least slightly amusing is when Thompson gives another reporter an hallucinogenic drug. It's mostly worth it because Rene Auburjonois plays the straight laced man under the influence with a nice amount of humor.  But it's also not terribly different that any other such scene you've ever watched in film and television.

Credit should be given to Bill Murray however, who portrays Hunter S. Thompson very accurately.  It's hard to look at Bill Murray and forget who he is most of the time, but here I was able to forget for a while and just see him as Thompson.  The two of them apparently spent quite a bit of time together before and during filming, and he clearly absorbed his mannerisms and ways of speaking very well.

Overall, I can't recommend this one unless you're a fan of Thompson, or perhaps if you really enjoyed Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and wanted to see more of him.  For the average person, this film is just too messy and not particularly funny.

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