We gave it a B-
Spacey takes his last name literally in this drama, based on the 1995 novel by Gene Brewer about a man who arrives in New York’s Grand Central Station and announces that he’s from another planet. Needless to say, he strikes cops as slightly imbalanced and finds himself forced to take the next train to a mental hospital, where he’s entrusted to a kindly shrink (Bridges, who himself played a stranger in a strange land in 1984’s ”Starman”). As the doctor begins to find himself moved by his new patient’s strength of conviction, so too should the audience.
”It’s not a genre piece, so I knew it would be difficult to get a studio to make the movie,” says producer Lawrence Gordon, who shepherded the project for several years before Universal stepped up. ”When we did ‘Field of Dreams,’ it took forever.” Once Spacey signed on, moving ”K-PAX” along didn’t get easy, Gordon says, ”but it got easier.”
Bridges liked that the film ”isn’t a high-tech science-fiction film filled with special effects,” and says he liked his costar even more: The pair bonded at a Beck and Neil Young concert. But the actor drew the line at offering Spacey how-to-get-at-the-heart-of-an-extraterrestrial pointers. ”I didn’t talk too much about ‘Starman’ during shooting,” Bridges says. ”I thought it would be better if we started fresh.”
Not that it’s clear that Spacey’s character is an alien, anyway. ”I like that the movie keeps you guessing, that there’s a mystery to it,” says director Softley (”The Wings of the Dove”). ”One of the things the movie does is invites us to see magic in the world.” Filming certainly did the trick for Bridges, who says, ”When I was making ‘Starman’ I’d look through my phone book and think which friends of mine I wouldn’t be surprised to find out were from outer space. On ‘K-PAX,’ there were definitely a few odd crew members.”