June 01, 1998 12:00 PM

Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro

If this is your brain on drugs (shot of two eggs frying), then this is your brain (close-up of 10,000 eggs scrambled) after seeing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The film is director Terry Gilliam’s (12 Monkeys) stupefyingly unsuccessful attempt to bring to the screen Hunter S. Thompson’s hallucinatory rant about Las Vegas, a city Thompson calls the “vortex of the American Dream.” His Fear and Loathing book, first published in Rolling Stone in 1971 as a two-part article on his drug-crazed stay in Vegas, was among the seminal pieces in what is now called gonzo journalism, stories in which form is more important than substance. But illegal substance consumption by the writer, at least in Thompson’s case, often affects form.

The movie is an unwatchable, pointless mess. As Thompson, Depp, a cigarette holder clenched between his teeth, mumbles and shouts while Del Toro, playing his corpulent pal Dr. Gonzo, belches, bellows and vomits repeatedly. (R)

Bottom Line: Drugs are bad; the movie’s worse

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