Ralph Steadman was the right-hand paintbrush for Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo journalism, grotesquely caricaturing the dark underbelly of the American Dream, with splattered monstrosities as vivid as the author’s words. What Charlie Paul’s documentary does best is to bring these satirical nightmares to life through animation. What it doesn’t do nearly as well is make Steadman as interesting as his art.
Johnny Depp, a close friend of Thompson and Steadman, serves as our guide through Steadman’s studio and career, bemused when he isn’t fawning over the artist’s slapdash perfection. Also on hand to lend debauched anecdotes and praise are actor Richard E. Grant and Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, who financed and sweated out many of the gonzo duo’s most memorable adventures.
It’s a pleasing tribute to Steadman, but there’s a sense that Paul would really prefer to focus on Thompson’s brand of altered-state brilliance, which has been covered in documentaries before. If you’re a gonzo completist, “For No Good Reason” is a must-see. Casual observers will likely believe the title is spot-on.