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K-PAX: Collector's Edition

Since when did Kevin Spacey start taking roles that appear tailor-made for Robin Williams? In K-PAX (2001), Spacey stars as Prot, a man with no discernible identity who is picked up by the NYPD and sent to a psychiatric hospital, insisting the entire time that he is an alien from the distant planet K-PAX (1,000 light years from earth) who journeys through galaxies on waves of light to learn more about primitive civilizations. And while he befuddles the head psychiatrist at the institution, Dr. Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges), astounds doctors with a few unusual physical traits, and explains matters of the universe to important scientists, Prot also finds a way to connect with his fellow psychiatric patients, giving them a sense of enthusiasm and hope they have not known for years. Tack on some funny clown shoes, a joy-buzzer, and a "nanu nanu" or two, and we're not far from Robin Williams and his iconoclastic turns in Patch Adams and other movies of the same ilk. But to be fair to K-PAX, it is far more ambitious than a "Mork and Mindy" re-run, and its two leading actors stabilize a film that often teeters on the brink of garish sentimentality. As Prot, Spacey is not necessarily a bad choice with his feline stillness and monotone elocution, and the earliest parts of the movie play to these strengths (although one could argue that Spacey here is a collection of mannerisms rather than the dynamic actor seen in his better pictures). Bridges — a reliable lead no matter what the movie — is empathetic as Dr. Powell, who shows great dedication and professionalism in his practice, but is distracted at home and estranged from his eldest son. But despite the casting, K-PAX soon wears thin — Prot remains a distant enigma throughout much the film, and when the story begins to concentrate on a series of hypnosis sessions, it devolves into a psychological whodunit best left to pulp novels, or a TV movie of the week. To its credit, K-PAX threatens to wrap up the proceedings with a clear resolution, but even when the greatest mystery (Prot's identity) appears to be solved, other puzzles remain. Many viewers will enjoy the obscure conclusion — getting to those final moments is another matter altogether. Universal's K-PAX: Collector's Edition offers a clean anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with audio in DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 (French 5.1 as well as English and Spanish subtitles are also here). Features include a commentary with director Iain Softley, a "Spotlight on Location" featurette, six deleted scenes, an alternate ending, storyboards, on-set photos by Jeff Bridges, production notes, cast/crew notes, the theatrical trailer, promotional items, and DVD-ROM content. Keep-case.

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