I was terribly excited when I learned of the film version of the first Tom Robbins novel I read. Learning of Gus Van Sant, Uma Thurman, Keanu Reeves, John Hurt, and even Rain Pheonix excited me even more. However, I was severly let down. This is, without question, the worst movie I have yet to see. As tavision so eloquently put it, "It is so bad, it isn't even good for being bad."
The plot is an abbreviation of the novel, to say the least. Granted, some cuts are to be expected, but some characters were reduced to such a shred of their literary counterparts it raises the question why Van Sant included them at all. The character of Dr. Robbins is completely absent, and the brevity with which the Chink is represented reduces him to a fortune-spewing, mountainman horndog. Pheonix is unbearable as Bonanza Jellybean. Her monotonous tones, lack of presence, and persistent lack of any cuteness destroy what could have been an excellent role. The character of Dolores Del Ruby is also disappointing; she lacks the wildness and distinction from the other cowgirls that the novel provides. This is despite an annoying soliloquoy directly to the camera and all too abundant whip-cracking. Uma Thurman would be the film's saving grace, but salvaging anything from this bastardization is akin to making sno-cones in hell. Hurt's Countess is fair, but again, the rest of the film drags it down. The voice-over by Robbins isn't spectacular, but his prose does carry some charm over.
At the end of the film, if K.D. Lang's original soundtrack hasn't been associated with the most painful cinematic experience of your couch's life, you are "treated" to a music video of the most played song in the movie, K.D. Lang's "Movement."
Do yourself a favor and spend the time reading some Robbins or praying if he attempts a film again he finds a director who can do his work justice.