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Where the Buffalo Roam
Biography, Comedy
IMDB rating:
Art Linson
Bruno Kirby as Marty Lewis
Rafael Campos as Rojas
Otis Day as Man #1 (as De Wayne Jessie)
Lisa Taylor as Ruthie
Jon Matthews as Billy Kramer
Leonard Frey as Desk Clerk
Joe Ragno as Willins
Leonard Gaines as Super Fan
Danny Goldman as Porter
R.G. Armstrong as Judge Simpson
Rene Auberjonois as Harris (as René Auberjonois)
Mark Metcalf as Dooley
Bill Murray as Hunter S. Thompson
Peter Boyle as Lazlo
Storyline: The deranged adventures of Gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson and his attorney Oscar Acosta, referred to in the movie as "Laslow". Thompson attempts to cover the Super Bowl and the 1972 Presidential election in his typical drug-crazed state, but it continually and comically sidetracked by his even more twisted friend Laslow. Allegedly based on actual events.
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This movie misses its mark. Awful direction helps most jokes fall flat on their faces. It's meant to be a lightweight, enjoyable, accessible movie one can just kick back to, but instead is a mishmash of ideas, characterisation and egos vying for stardom. There are some great ideas here - Hunter Thompson provides great subject matter for Murray - yet the execution is lackluster relegating the film to be untimately only for fans of Murray.

GRADE: C-, but not in an Ed Wood film kinda way. Its a lesser movie than one of them because it tries and so failing after that is in many ways much much worse.
Unbelievably NOT Funny
It's hard to believe Hunter S. Thompson's life and writings could be made in to a movie without making it funny. Yet, Where the Buffalo Roam has done it. Even Bill Murray, who should be perfect as Thompson, is unconvincing, self-conscious, and... not funny. Virtually every gag falls flat as the movie bemuses you with badly it can mess up something with so much humour potential.

On the bright side, it's interesting to see how many scenes Terry Gilliam stole directly from this film for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and how much of Johnny Dep's acting style for that film was taken from Bill Murray.
A cartoonish, idiotic romp that does Thompson's genius no justice
As a massive fan of Hunter S. Thompson (I don't exaggerate when I say the man is my hero), a heavy reader of his books and articles, and a Gilliam fanboy who's seen "Fear and Loathing" approximately 700 times, I was like a kid on Christmas when I found out that there's ANOTHER movie about Dr. Gonzo starring Bill Murray, one of my favorite actors. Little did I know the disappointment I was in for.

While Bill Murray, despite not resembling HST in the least, had his mannerisms down pat in this role, this film completely mangled Thompson's character. "Where the Buffalo Roam" portrays him as a rebel only in the shallowest sense, reminiscent more of an Animal House fratboy than an American outlaw as he tours the nation, freaking out the squares and starting parties everywhere he goes. The film touches on actual issues such as the War on Drugs only to create the illusion of some counter-culture message, but it never actually quotes any of Dr. Thompson's biting insight on the era portrayed in the film.

I could also cite how Peter Boyle was entirely wrong for the character he was playing and a number of other issues I had with this movie, but in a nutshell, the most glaring problem with "Where the Buffalo Roam" is that it takes some of Hunter S. Thompson's best and most insightful journalism, dumbs it down, and condenses it into a cockeyed, silly package that retains none of the power or message of its source material. This is the equivalent of Gonzo babyfood, good for a couple chuckles but little more. Stick with "Fear and Loathing" for your HST dose in film, Depp portrays a better Thompson, Del Toro is an infinitely better Zeta Acosta, and Gilliam as a directer just plain "gets it."
Loosely based on real events
The one thing that I really haven't seen anyone mention is that none of the little "vignettes" that Hunter goes through are things he actually did. F&L is based on his book, which is based on events that he actually reported on. WTBR is a jangled mess. Not to say I don't enjoy it, but there is very little that is taken from his works.

For instance, Hunter did not go and cover the '72 super bowl. But he did cover the LA Raiders for a little while in i believe 1970 and failed covering the Ali-Frazier fight in Zaire in 1975. Which I think what this segment is alluding to.

The scene were Lazlo is in court is taken from "Strange Rumblings in Aztlan" but that was about a murder case involving a Chicano journalist and the LA police.

During the '72 presidential campaign he was covering the Democrats and George McGovern not Nixon. His only personal encounter with Nixon came in 1968 when they discussed football in the back of Nixon's car on the way to the airport.

And drug/arms running to Latin America with Lazlo/Acosta? Never happened, but Hunter did think Acosta was killed under similar circumstances.

I'm just saying that the movie is entertaining and Bill Murray does a very good job. But it is not based at all in reality.
love, peace, and a little insanity
let's see, first of all i never saw Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to ever hear about Thompson. Nor did ever see Where the Buffalo Roam,I got introduced to Thompson by a friend of mine who gave me the book, Better Than Sex. That was a couple of years of go, the thing about the movie is its up to par with the writing style Thompson had. its not funny to be a comedy, but it isn't that serious either. i enjoyed this movie, i thought it expressed the true gonzo fashion in its raw form. Do i consider myself a fan? Not really, i do have several books by Tompson, I like his writing style. Just remember that films, writing, music, and all other sorts of media is art. just because you don't like the movie, doesn't mean that its that bad. you're probably not educated enough to understand its content, its true meaning.
An entertaining film on its own and a must for fans of Dr. Thompson
This film version of the life of gonzo journalist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is a great intro to his works. I saw this film before I'd ever read word one by HST, and while this is definitely a lightened version of his work it is very entertaining. Murray plays an almost slapstick version of Thompson, especially when compared to Johnny Depp's brilliant (but incomprehensible) Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
WARNING: Insults ahead.

Now I'm no movie critic and I don't think these comment things should be taken serious at all considering the majority of the people on this thing sharing their two cents haven't spent any time in a film studies course, creative writing course, and have no real true understanding of the art of film. "Everyone's a critic" and thanks to the internet that statement hasn't been truer.

But lets get onto the movie.

Any self respecting HUNTER S. THOMPSON fan should stay away from this film. It's a terrible insult to the man and he's even been quoted as saying he liked Murray's performance but that he "was very disappointed in the script. It s*cks – a bad, dumb, low-level, low-rent script." Credit where credit is due Murray does a fantastic job with Hunter's mannerisms but he makes the poor guy out to be some sort of silly cartoon character. Murry certainly could move and maybe talk like Hunter but he looked nothing like him and the writing was cr*p. Now this of course is not Murray's fault since he didn't write the script, and that is his one saving grace.

Jack Kroll wrote, in his review for Newsweek magazine, "Screenwriter John Kaye has reduced Thompson's career to a rubble of disjointed episodes, and the relentless mayhem becomes tiresome chaos rather than liberating comic anarchy." Thats the truth right there. If you want to get a real in depth look at the man, read some of the Gonzo letters. I recommend The Proud Highway. A d*mn good documentary would be Fear & Loathing on the Road to Hollywood, which can be found on the Criterion Edition of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (a fantastic representation of Hunter and his work but thats for another comment board).

Bottom line folks, the movie is sh*t. It reeks of bitter 80's humor and brain dead writing. Bill Murray is a great actor but he should be ashamed of this film. If you are a true Hunter fan, stay as far away from this film as possible because it degrades him to the level of a sloppy clown, which he was very far from.

This movie is for the ignorant Raoul Duke duke and the poor soul who sits in his room all day watching 80's movies and dreaming they could use Doc Brown's time machine to go back to a time where they were considered "normal." Now take all that I say with a grain of salt. I've only taken one Film Studies course so I am no critic of films, but I have read every single Hunter S. Thompson book and seen every documentary that has come out and I can give my honest advice, as a person well versed in the Gonzo world, that this movie is NOT HUNTER S. THOMPSON Mahalo
Not perfect, but still great.
HST purists may scoff, but this movie still holds its own. Not as dark as "Fear and Loathing..." but way more fun, this is a great party movie. In a way, its aimlessness reflects the early 70s era and Murray's performance is pretty hilarious. Not sure if there was any of his patented improvising, but he's pretty off the wall (washing his sneakers in a public bathroom and disrobing while talking to Nixon?). There's no real plot, just random adventure of HST with reocurring visits from Peter Boyle as the radically liberal Lazlo. I remember that "Fear and Loathing..." generated a ton of hype, but this film better captures the drunken spirit of HST and his tales.
a sad day - a true original lost
Apparently Hunter S. Thompson shot himself last night. I remember seeing this movie classic when I was just a kid, and I became so fascinated with Thompson's character for years. You never hear this movie mentioned when people discuss Bill Murray's best films, but it is one of his classics, and I don't think I ever saw Peter Boyle any better. I was extremely sad when I just heard of the suicide - a true American original will be missed. I never saw Johnny Depp's "Fear & Loathing", but I've always heard it was good. Maybe I'll now finally catch that one. In any event though, "Where The Buffalo Roam" is a wonderful movie and one that hopefully won't be forgotten...
a simple way of looking at a complicated man.
For fans who thought "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas" was a bit over the top, there's always "Where the Buffalo Roam"- a look into various different events in the life of Hunter S. Thompson throughout the 60s and 70s including an impromptu bathroom interview with Richard Nixon, a failed attempt at covering the Superbowl and Nixon's presidential candidacy among other things. This film, directed by Art Linson is more straight forward than "Fear & Loathing" which was directed by the acclaimed actor and director Terry Gilliam. It's easy to find the contrasting points between the two because their approaches were very different. Where "Fear & Loathing" makes full use of Thompson's "point of view" in scenes filled with hallucinogenic ramblings and drug addled visions, "Where the Buffalo Roam" tells the story in a more straight forward manner, from the perspective of an outside observer. Though it lacked any of the grand stylization which Terry Gilliam's film had, it did have it's own sense of atmosphere developed mostly by Bill Murray's characterization of Hunter S. Thompson - the court room only becomes bizarre after Thompson enters with a lit cigarette in his mouth and a Bloody Mary in hand.

Peter Boyle's portrayal of the famous chicano lawyer, Oscar Zeta Acosta (in this movie known by the name "Carl Lazlo") was a bit weak, though it surpassed my expectations - who knew straight laced Peter Boyle, who is most currently starring as the father in the tv show "Everybody loves Raymond", could even get an ounce of passion into this role. Or maybe I'm just holding him to the high standards Benicio Del Toro created when he portrayed Oscar Zeta in "Fear & Loathing".

Contrary to the great similarities I saw between Bill Murray & Johnny Depp's portrayal of Hunter S. Thompson (they acted almost identically, with Thompson's mannerism down expertly) Benicio and Peter played Oscar Zeta in two very different ways. While Peter Boyle's "Oscar" was seemingly straight laced and subdued, only loud when he needed to be, Benicio's portrayal was of the drug addled, out of his mind, loud and crazy all of the time "Oscar", which after reading Oscar Zeta's two books "Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo" and "Revolt of the Cockroach People", seems much more appropriate. (both books are highly recommended reading, if you are at all interested in radical lawyering).

All in all, I would say this film does a pretty good job of telling a straight forward story in a manner that's easily understandable & enjoyable. But the underlying fact is that Hunter S. Thompson was a crazy, drug addled, mostly unintelligible man - which is why I preferred Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I would give this film a 7 out of 10.
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