For years, it was speculated that Hunter S. Thompson's wild, dope-fueled, hallucinatory Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was simply one of those books that couldn't be adapted for film. Nevertheless, Terry Gilliam -- possibly one of the only contemporary directors with enough visual panache to pull it off -- brought it to life in 1998 with Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke and Benicio Del Toro as Duke's Samoan lawyer, Dr. Gonzo. Promising cast, promising director, and a bunch of promising cameos (Christina Ricci, Tobey Maguire, Cameron Diaz, Lyle Lovett, etc.) -- all the ingredients for a good movie, plus a good period-piece soundtrack, as well. Gilliam has stocked the film with familiar cuts from the late '60s and early '70s -- "White Rabbit," "For Your Love," "Get Together," "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)," "One Toke Over the Line" -- plus album cuts (albeit classics) from Bob Dylan ("Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again"), Buffalo Springfield ("Expecting to Fly") and Big Brother & the Holding Company ("Combination of the Two"). There's also a clutch of Las Vegas lounge standards, such as Tom Jones' "She's a Lady," Perry Como's "Magic Moments" and Debbie Reynolds' "Tammy," that hammer home the fact that the movie is set in Vegas. Excerpts from the score and bits of dialogue are scattered throughout it all. All of this plays better if you know the book or seen the movie, but it still has a certain warped charm that's pretty fun, regardless of your familiarity with the crown prince of gonzo journalism.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine