Once actually arrived in Las Vegas, that's when this modern epic of psycadelic proportions begins to take place. Totally lit on almost every drug imaginable over roughly a one-week period, journalist Raoul Duke and his attourney Dr. Gonzo partake in some amazing sights and adventures. The irony lies where this story is only so unique because of their mind-altered and drug-enhanced perspectives on, what would seem like to us, a normal, almost dull, trip to Las Vegas. Things that could only happen if you were clearly sniffing some ether.
The main misunderstanding in this tale is, quite obviously, the incredibly high drug-influenced theme. While some people choose to not take this too seriously and only find the drug-induced adventures of Hunter Thompson extremely funny, others do not. They see this story as basically pathetic, since their lives are so incredibly overtaken by the substances they use. One should not choose one extreme or the other: Of course it is a highly amusing story that is guaranteed to make you laugh, but is also a cause-and-consequence story, showing how much drugs like these can ruin a lifestyle. The main thing to focus on, I believe, is their particular perspectives on the world around them. Their viewpoints on life and people of the world are much different than any normal person's. It almost has a "Catcher in the Rye" appeal because of the main character's unique and cynnical views on the world, which can prove to be extremely interesting.
The film itself I believe was put out much too late for the book, since it basically revolves around the San Fransisco acid generation of the late 60's. Still, this is by far the best book-to-movie transfer I have seen. The story in the film follows the novel almost identically, including much of the dialogue. Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke is fantastic, since Depp can so perfectly nail the strange accent and the paranoid personality of Hunter Thompson. Benicio Del Toro also does an exceptional job as Dr. Gonzo, and no one else can do such a good job of several random freak-outs in a single scene.
All in all, I highly recommend this film to anyone, although it is not for the faint of heart. It still remians incredibly realistic, which includes a few vomit-induced hallucinations. But there is a great deal of humor as well as realism, but this film is certainly more than a comedy. But the first-hand experiences and general perspective of the characters can't be beat. Overall this story is more of a day-in-the-life of an average junkie who's put into extraordinary surroundings and the mayhem that insues.