Tuesday, December 20, 2011


(September 1991, U.S.)

The hilarious Robin Williams playing a whacked-out homeless man? Oh, sure, what WON'T be funny about that?? Jeff Bridges playing a radio shock-jock-a-la-Howard Stern dislaying the same contempt for humanity that he gave us in THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS (1989)? Oh, sure, what WON'T be great about that? And directed by Monty Python's Terry Gilliam whose MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1975) is still my favorite film comedy after all these years? Oh, sure...ah, you get the idea!

So I already mentioned the shock jock character of Jack Lucas that Bridges plays, which means the man is basically a vicious prick who'll say anything on the radio to rattle his listeners, keep his ratings up and maintain the lavish lifestyle he's built for himself. However, as one moment of bad judegment proves, words hurt more than sticks and stones and inevitably drives one unstable listner to open fire with a shotgun inside a very yuppie drinking establishment because Jack told him on open radio that "those people" must be stopped. As a result, Jack's life is shattered and reduced to having to live with the likes of Merecedes Ruehl (I've NEVER liked her!) in an apartment above a sleazy video store. That radio incident also inevitably shattered the life of Robin Williams character of Parry, whose wife was shot and killed in front of his eyes. Parry is now a deluded homeless man who believes that Jack was sent to him to help find the Holy Grail cup inside another man's Upper West Side castle. Sure, why not, right?

Jack, despite his dislike of other people (which, by the way, I can completely relate to) is compelled, nonetheless, to help Parry rebuild his life by helping him to meet a girl he's (Parry) absolutely smitten over (she's played by very mousy Amanda Plummer). If this happens, perhaps Jack can rebuild his own life. Lives are rebuilt, the Holy Grail cup (or some cheap symbolic version of it) is recovered and the right people seem to fall in love with each other and live happily ever after. That makes perfect sense, of course, when you're dealing with a film that more or less embodies the elements of storytime magic and fantasy, even when it's right here on Earth.

There's one element that I recently noticed that very subtly expresses the timeline here that I'm willing to bet many others haven't noticed before. At the beginning of the film, Jack is up for a part in a sitcom about a radio host. That crashes down after the gunman incident. Years later, he has to painfully watch as someone else has made that show a hit. Only about a year later, Jack's life is rebuilt and the TV show is now defucnt and the former star of the show will now be a guest on Jack's new radio show. Time and circumstance are funny things, indeed. And by the way, if you're looking for a film where you can't hear Burton Lane's "How About You" enough times, then THE FISHER KING is definitely for you! Enjoy!

Favorite line or dialogue:

Jack (to himself): "He talks to invisible people, he sees invisible horses and he's lying naked in the middle of Central Park. I should be surprised? I'm not surprised. I'm outta my fucking mind to even be here!"
Parry: "Who you talking to, Jack?"
Jack: "I'm talking to the LITTLE people!"
Parry: "Are THEY here?"
Jack: "They're saying, "Jack, go to the liquor store and findeth the Jack of Daniels so that ye may be shitfaced, doo-lang, doo-LANG!"
Parry: "They said THAT?"
Jack: "You're out of your fucking mind!"
Parry: "Bingo!"

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