I did not expect to like this movie. All I had ever about it was the drug use.
Here is what I think now: I think the making of it was all about the drugs and I think that the drugs is only a part of the story.
What is the story? Two drug dealers with amazing bikes make a journey from LA to Mardi Gras. Along the way, things happen to them, they do things, and see places. That is it in a nutshell - without giving away too much.
Aside from the bit at the commune, and the insane bit at Mardi Gras, I rather liked it. And I didn't like those parts because I didn't get them. This is why I need to watch it with someone smarter than I am.
Overall, this movie is really interesting. I am niave, I will admit that. And I am niave because I can not imagine the people are like that (the "rednecks" in the film). I just can't wrap my head around that. Thank goodness there is the scene with the man with his huge family. Otherwise, you would think all country people are that biggoted and bloodthirsty.
The acting is pretty good. I was shocked by Jack Nicholson. Amazed - considering the body of his work that I am familiar with. This character is so different. You really came to love this character. Hopper and Fonda are strange companions, but it makes a better picture of who they are; keeping in mind that we know nothing about them.
Art direction is amazing. Except for that bit in New Orleans, which looks incredibly different from everything else. Some of the most beautiful shots of America - and then you contrast that with how most of these townspeople who think themselves as the heart of america, treat these men. That is what gets me the most. The beauty of the country and the happiness and the freedom against the drugs, the bigotry, and the hate. In this way, I think the film is genius.
Also the music is amazing.
This movie was nomiated for only 2 Oscars, but it is the social significance that makes this movie a classic. It is included in the National Film Registry and is on 3 AFI lists.
Watch it with someone, but I don't think this is one of those films that you should watch while under the influence of anything stronger than liquor. It just wouldn't work.
4 out of 5 stars