By People Staff
Updated February 02, 1981 12:00 PM
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As a filmmaker, Ken (Tommy) Russell does not believe in half measures. Why go partway when one can just as easily go too far? So it comes as no surprise that his adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s 1978 novel about altered states of consciousness is as pretentious, excessive, bizarre and (occasionally) awe-inspiring as any movie in recent years. The story concerns a faculty member at Harvard Medical School who subjects himself to increasingly dangerous experiments with psychedelic drugs. Russell’s visual effects make 2001 (from which he borrows freely) look like Mickey Mouse, and in the best scene the professor, transformed into a primitive man, runs wild through the streets of Boston. No character—including William Hurt in the central role—is even vaguely likable, and the mawkish ending is a laugh. In the Russell tradition, there are brilliant flashes on an overwrought trip to nowhere. (R)