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Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson (2008)



Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 94
Fresh: 81 | Rotten: 13

While not the comprehensive profile of the man that his die-hard fans might have hoped for, Gonzo remains an insightful introduction to the life of rebellious writer Hunter S. Thompson and his influences.


Average Rating: 7.5/10
Critic Reviews: 27
Fresh: 25 | Rotten: 2

While not the comprehensive profile of the man that his die-hard fans might have hoped for, Gonzo remains an insightful introduction to the life of rebellious writer Hunter S. Thompson and his influences.



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Movie Info

Alex Gibney (director of (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) turns his attention from corporate scandal to Gonzo journalism with this tribute to the libido-driven, Wild Turkey-swilling writer who never knew the meaning of the word "excess." Comprised largely of never-before-seen archival materials, Gibney's film focuses on the years between 1965 and 1975, when Hunter S. Thompson was truly firing on all cylinders. Rare home movies, audiotapes, and excerpts from unpublished manuscripts combine


Documentary, Special Interest

Nov 18, 2008


Magnolia Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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December 19, 2008:
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All Critics (96) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (81) | Rotten (13) | DVD (3)

The film's plea that we need Thompson now more than ever is a little misty-eyed: Thompson's day was long gone by the time he put a gun to his head.

December 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gonzo is an excellent reminder that Thompson was more than just a wild man. He was, at least for a time, a first-rate writer who covered his times and helped shape them.

October 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The worshipfulness obscures the sadder aspects of Thompson's life, which is perhaps why Gibney focuses on the writer's 1965-75 golden years.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Too much time in this overly long film is spent on minutiae.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Filmmaker Alex Gibney had access to those who knew the guy, the famous, the infamous and the obscure, and he paints a picture of a serious journalist who saw himself documenting 'the death of the American Dream.'

August 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Though Thompson's long slide into irrelevance in the 80s and 90s is duly noted, most of the movie covers his glory days during the Vietnam era, when he was arguably the most exciting and important literary talent in America.

August 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Thompson is dead but his skepticism survives. In the land of endless corruption, the muckraker is king, if only in the moral sense.

August 15, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

This movie has confirmed my suspicion that people need to leave Hunter S. Thompson's story alone for a while.

March 24, 2011 Full Review Source: What Culture | Comment (1)
What Culture

Alex Gibney's documentary (aligns) the Gonzo's descent into madness with the decline of American values.

August 9, 2010 Full Review Source:

Gonzo's brilliance is in showing Thompson warts and all, without taking anything away from his greatness even as it shows his many deficiencies.

June 12, 2010 Full Review Source: DCist

Alex Gibney's documentary about bad boy journalist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is both a memorial exaltation and a lament. Gibney's masterful style balances verite and dramatic effect. He doesn't doesn't tell you what to think, but spurs you to think.

May 26, 2009 Full Review Source:

A colorful documentary about the famed journalist and author, Hunter S. Thompson, spiced up with movie clips of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and other works based on Thompson's writings.

February 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

A definitive, accessible, even inspiring screen biography put together with thought and vitality.

December 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Much like the man himself, it's quite a piece of work.

December 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Gonzo is much more than a tribute to a maverick and genuine pioneer. It's a lament for the gaping hole that Thompson left behind. The only obvious weakness is Gibney's reluctance to engage fully with Thompson's toxic personal life.

December 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

This documentary about his life by Alex Gibney, though entertaining in many ways, is oddly uninterested in his strengths or otherwise as a writer, the very gift for which Thompson earnestly wished to be known.

December 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Guardian

Director Alex Gibney has plundered 200 hours of audiotapes, hundreds of photos and personal testimony from an impressive roster of Thompson's colleagues and family to put together an even-handed portrait.

December 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

A straight-line journey through the good doctor's loopy myth and madness, but one that doesn't push far enough into uncharted territory. Fine as a primer, but Gibney leans more towards admiration than examination.

December 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

The film is content to laugh affectionately at Thompson's bad boy exploits, giggle at the impatience of a man who went hunting boar with a sub machine-gun.

December 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK]
Daily Mail [UK]

Crackingly entertaining documentary.

December 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Daily Mirror [UK]
Daily Mirror [UK]

Thompson must be looking down, or up, from his afterworld thinking: "The worst success is a failure to keep alive the spirit of offendedness and outrage."

December 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

This soft-headed hagiography is a disappointment, and at least half an hour too long.

December 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Independent | Comment (1)

Gibney says the film took so much out of him that he limped into the Sundance Festival with a ruptured disc, a green liver and spots in his eyes that will not disappear. I hope he now thinks it worth the trouble. I'm pretty sure watchers will.

December 19, 2008 Full Review Source: This is London | Comment (1)
This is London

Superbly directed, hugely entertaining documentary that's a treat for both newcomers and aficionados of Thompson's work.

December 19, 2008 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

With a wealth of archive material, documentary filmmaker Gibney assembles a remarkably astute and comprehensive look at the life of one of the most notorious journalists in American history.

December 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

Audience Reviews for Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson was one of the most eccentric, unique writers in the literary genre. This is a great documentary about the life and legacy of Hunter S. Thompson. The film comprises interviews of people who knew Thompson and they talk about his legacy. I've read some of his work, and it is brilliant, eccentric, and bizarre, but above all original. Brilliantly captured on film, this is a film that not only tells Thompson's story, but takes a look at the time period of which he became famous. Although not a perfect documentary, this is a good enough film that will definitely appeal to his fans. I enjoyed the documentary and it was quite entertaining from start to finish. The interviews are very good and will definitely delight fans of the late author. Hunter S. Thompson was a unique author and an important one at that. This is a fine little film that should be seen. Although it is not for everyone, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is a well crafted documentary that is very good and overcomes its flaws due to the fact that it tells such a powerful story about one of the most legendary authors. The film not only focuses on his work, but on his life and his impact on the medium. After watching this film, you realize how important Hunter S. Thompson was. Often bizarre, but constantly entertaining and engaging, this is a well crafted documentary that you should see if you love Thompson's work, then definitely check this film out, you will definitely enjoy it. Hunter S. Thompson was a brilliant writer and an important one at that that made a huge impact on popular culture.
April 7, 2013
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

Well made and thorough account of Thmpson's bizarre life, if a little enthrall to the myth and very sympathetic to his vast shortcomings.
May 14, 2009
Gordon A

Super Reviewer

a fairly engrossing account of the life and times of the eccentric writer, especially his glory days of the late 60's, early 70's. here was a man who sadly became trapped by his image and by his own estimation, lived more than 30 years of his life on borrowed time. interesting variety of guest stars, from pat buchanan to jimmy buffet. johnny depp's narration annoyed me but this is highly watchable for those with an interest in hst or the counterculture movement
December 31, 2008
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

Being a h u g e fan of Thompson's I was eagerly awating Gonzo, but found myself a little disappointed. Johnny Depp's narration seemed sporadic and the recreations seemed kind of lame. And those psychedelic backgrounds during a few of the interviews were a tad cliche. All the archival footage and photos were great. But ultimately, Gonzo seemed to paint a fair portrait of the man--the good and the ugly. And of course some bad in there for good measure. In this movie's defense I did watch it pretty late and started nodding off toward the end. A revised review is forthcoming...
November 21, 2008

Super Reviewer

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