Right off the bat, a line in Michael Fleming‘s story about Gus Van Sant‘s yet-to-be-written adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test gives pause. I’m speaking of the Variety columnist writing that “it’s likely Wolfe will not be a major character in the film, which will focus on Kesey and include events that occurred after the road trip.”
Sorry, but this falls under the heading of a Big Mistake. If you’re going to make a film that’s mainly about a bunch of visionary free spirits ripped on acid and driving a psychedelic bus around the country, you need an against-the-flow punctuation character — a dispassionate overview guy wearing a suit and taking notes and not dropping tabs. Obviously! Anyone who knows the first thing about writing ensemble pieces will tell you this.
Because the entire universe is contained in every blade of grass, I’m afraid the Wolfe deletion is a serious stopper for Van Sant’s Kool-Aid project. Without a Wolfe character the film will be a little too Even Cowgirls Get The Blues. Too crazy-60s monotonous, too indulgent-flamboyant. Ken Kesey this, Neil Casady that, etc. Bring in Wolfe and we’ll talk but without him, forget it.