'For No Good Reason' Movie Review

"For No Good Reason" Movie Review: 3 Stars

by Gary Goldstein

The inventively shot and constructed documentary "For No Good Reason" is an absorbing look at the unique, surreal work of British cartoonist Ralph Steadman.

Yet the film, directed by Charlie Paul and narrated by -- and also co-starring -- Steadman's friend and admirer Johnny Depp, proves more successful at examining a lifetime's worth of an artist's output than at revealing much about the artist himself.

Fortunately, Steadman's blotchy ink drawings are captivating; bold, weird, satirical and highly identifiable, often from their appearances in special editions of such classics as "Alice in Wonderland" and "Animal Farm," in Rolling Stone magazine and alongside the work of famed gonzo journalist and novelist Hunter S. Thompson. (Steadman notably illustrated Thompson's 1971 book "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," which, in 1998, was made into a film starring Depp).

And the movie has stirring coverage of the stormy work-and-play relationship between Steadman and the erratic Thompson -- it began in 1970 and lasted until the writer's suicide in 2005 -- which takes up much of the movie.

Evocative archival footage of the pair over the years along with tales told of shared drugs, travels and anti-Nixon-era sentiment (the last was frequently reflected in Steadman's anarchic images) paint a vivid picture of the disparate collaborators.

Paul beautifully captures a barrage of Steadman's drawings, many of which the filmmaker augments with lively animation.

In addition, there's input from such Steadman fans and colleagues as Rolling Stone publisher-editor Jann Wenner, actor Richard E. Grant and "Fear and Loathing" director Terry Gilliam.

Meanwhile, the chain-smoking, low-key Depp (he met with Steadman at the artist's English country estate) serves as both interviewer and audience as Steadman, now 78, talks craft and influences, reflects on his eclectic career and enjoyably demonstrates his creative process.


No MPAA rating. Running time: 1:30.

Johnny Depp pays a call on his friend and hero Ralph Steadman and we take off on a high-spirited, lyrical, raging and soulful journey discovering the life and works of one of the most important radical British artists of modern times. Steadman rose to prominence in the early 70's when his impassioned and stirring images gained recognition through popular cultural publications and press both in the UK and US for their bold comment on world politics and human rights infringements

'For No Good Reason' Movie Review & Movie Trailer