The profound influence of Hunter S. Thompson on modern journalism, popular culture and rock ‘n’ roll is undeniable and not up for debate. The renegade writer saw angles and drew inspiration from chemicals, yes—but he possessed an innate sense of the human condition that has eluded most subsequent examiners of said condition, regardless of chemical ingestion.
Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride: Hunter S. Thompson On Film documents the Good Doctor’s, “overlapping relationships with Hollywood celebs and films adapted from his books,” and because it does, it should be avoided by any self-respecting fan of the legendary Gonzo journalist.
The interviews with William F. Buckley and George McGovern are the lone highlights. Everything else is difficult to endure. When Johnny Depp recollects with near certainty that Thompson shared his desire to have his remains blasted from a cannon upon his passing with Depp, because he was the only one crazy enough to pull it off, or something to that effect, your heart will sink.
With all due respect to Mr. Depp and Sean Penn (also featured in the film, and in this journalist’s opinion the best living actor on the planet), some would argue that the type of relationships Thompson had with Hollywood jetsetters influenced a decline in his literary output (measured using quantity and quality). These relationships also contributed to Thompson’s becoming a caricature of himself, in the sense that his insatiability (measured using, well, anything) led to an unhealthy celebrity status that ultimately consumed him. Living up to the legend is tough work when the legend knows no boundaries and hangs with John Cusack.
I appreciate Thompson’s portraits of Puerto Rico, painted with hamburgers and hacks (The Rum Diary) and his fly on the wall perspective of outlaw bikers (Hell’s Angels)—but spare me Gary Busey’s deepest thoughts and a Fear and Loathing film montage.