A homeless, former history professor helps a shock radio dj find redemption in his search for the Holy Grail in modern day New York.
Genre: Feature Film-Comedy
Release Date: 28-AUG-2001
Media Type: DVD
This is a great movie. Interesting storyline. Great actors. Worth watching.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jason C. (JJC) from NEWARK, NJ Reviewed on 1/19/2010...
Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) is a Howard Stern-type of talk radio DJ that is on top of his game and just about ready to make his big move to prime-time TV in a sure-fire hit sitcom. However, the day before he makes his deal, Jack gives some misleading advice to a regular caller of his show, who misinterprets this advice and goes on a killing spree in a New York restaurant. This ends Jack's rising career overnight.
Three years later, Jack is a depresed alcoholic and working with his girlfriend, Anne (Mercedes Ruehl, in her Oscar-winning performance) in her video store, he also lives with her. His would be prime-time show is a huge success, going strong...which is still depressing Jack to this very day. One night, Jack goes on a huge drinking binge and gets lost in the backstreets of New York. Being mistaken for a homeless bum, Jack is severely beaten and almost killed until Parry (Robin Williams), rescues him. Parry is simply a lunatic, a homeless man, but his heart is in the right place. He's disturbed yet somewhat intelligent.
After hanging with Parry for a while, Jack realizes that Parry once had a successful life and his wife was killed in the restaurant by Jack's psycho caller, and now feels responsible for Parry's current state. Parry is also secretly in love with Lydia (Amanda Plummer), who doesn't know him from anything. Parry just watches her, going to work, carrying out her daily routine, and that makes him happy. So, with the aid of Anne, Jack tries to help Parry connect with his new love. He feels that's the least he could do.
There's more to tell on this movie, especially a very interesting subplot about finding the Holy Grail, but I would rather you watch this film for yourself and witness a very strange tale of comedy, drama, love, fantasy and adventure from one of the great directors of modern cinema.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Outstanding Performances Highlight A Great Story
Reviewer | 07/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the one for which Robin Williams should have received an Oscar; for as Parry, the victim of a senseless tragedy, he is nothing short of brilliant in "The Fisher King," directed by Terry Gilliam and co-starring Jeff Bridges (who also gives an Oscar-worthy performance here). Gilliam has created the perfect mood and atmosphere to tell the story of successful radio talk-show host Jack Lucas (Bridges), and the homeless and mentally unhinged Parry, whose lives intersect in the wake of an act of unconscionable violence that leaves them both barely clinging to the memory of a reality that no longer exists for either of them. With this movie, Gilliam has deftly crafted a study of the symbiotic existence of mankind and the impact of human nature upon the space we all must share in a world growing smaller day by day. Through Jack's eyes, Gilliam examines the nature of cause and effect, and the results thereof, and Jack's story ultimately becomes Parry's story, and aptly illustrates how the needs of one become the necessity of another, and what it means to finally be able to look beyond ourselves and delve beneath those layers of contemporary frivolity we all manage to build, which in the end are nothing more than pretentious insulations that keep us from the things in life that really matter. Even as Jack's own act of irresponsibility comes back to haunt him and make him question his own values to the very core of his being, Parry receives the brunt of it all from the other end of the spectrum, with consequences even more dire, though for both the result of their shared circumstance is life-altering. Williams gives a masterful performance here that illuminates so well how thin the line between comedy and drama really is. He brings the complex, tragic figure of Parry to the screen flawlessly, with attitude, expression and even body language that is impeccable, and all without a single false moment to be found anywhere throughout (by comparison, even as good as he was in "Good Will Hunting," for which he received the B.S.A. Oscar, under close scrutiny you'll find a moment or two there that do not ring true). This is quite simply the best work he's ever done, before or since, and he's given the cinematic world an unforgettable character that will undoubtedly make a lasting impression on anyone who sees this film. And, though Williams grabs the lion's share of the spotlight here, he by no means overshadows Jeff Bridges, who has also created a memorable character in Jack. He brings a depth to this role through which he readily displays the many different levels upon which Jack works and lives, from the egotistical, self-centered to the compassionate; it's like watching a struggle for domination going on within him, and waiting to find out which side will ultimately emerge triumphant. It's an exemplary performance, and it's a gross miscarriage of justice that Bridges didn't at least receive a nomination for Best Actor for this one. Proving, however, that justice does, at times, get it's due, Mercedes Ruehl was awarded the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her personable portrayal of Anne, the fulcrum upon which Jack and Parry dramatically balance their tender and tentative psyches. Like Bridges and Williams, she gives a performance here that is totally credible, and she's a delight to watch. One of the strengths of this movie, in fact, is the incredible performances; and it's so gratifying to see such a good story brought to life and made so real through artistic endeavor. In a supporting role, Michael Jeter demands to be singled out for his part as the homeless Cabaret Singer, and also Amanda Plummer, as the hapless and endearing Lydia, both of whom are just additional parts of the aggregate that make this such a great movie. With "The Fisher King," Gilliam has given us a wonderfully textured morality tale, both entertaining and engaging and rich with metaphor and substance that will endure the test of time, because it is, in the end, a story for the ages. This is definitely one you do not want to let pass you by."
A profound experience
pattem | Perth, Australia | 08/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Fisher King is a representational movie. It makes use of Arthurian legend, and parallels the legend of the Fisher King with the lives of the two main protagonists - Parry (Robin Williams) and Jack (Jeff Bridges). Symbolism and metaphorical techniques are utilisied extensively throughout the film, which makes it an extremely visual experience to watch. However, the symbolism extends beyond the visual plane, to a very psychological one. For example, Parry's creation of a fantastical world full of 'little fat people' and the 'Red Knight', is very much representative of his own mental condition; the fantasy world, minus the Red Knight, represents Parry's acceptance/ignorance of his mental trauma. At the same time the Red Knight is symbolic of the pain and suffering as caused by the trauma itself.
Whenever Parry shows glimpes of sanity (lucid speech, dating, feeling love again, etc.), the Red Knight always appears in his life. While the Red Knight is at bay Parry is not catatonic or overwrought by his trauma. To overcome/accept the trauma of seeing his wife murdered before his eyes, ultimately Parry has to confront the Red Knight and vanguish him. However, he lacks the insight and strength to do this on his own. Enter Jack - who ultimately feels responsible for Parry's condition! Jack is the equivalent of the fool or simpleton from the story of the Fisher King. Jack's intent is one of redemption, while he is absorbed into Parry's world. Eventually Jack begins to understand Parry's need for the Holy Grail, which represents Acceptance of Loss. If Parry is able to possess the Holy Grail, then he shall be able to vanguish Insanity as represented by the Red Knight.
While there are elements of fantasy and Arthurian legend woven into this story, there is also a theme of Christianity. Originally Jack is driven by a need to regain the former glory of his life when he was a successful talkback radio host. He wants that life back and believes that by helping Parry, he will overcome his guilt, and thus be able to resume his former life. Jack feels a false resolution in his life when he regains his former life. However, ultimately, when Jack agrees to undertake the quest for the Holy Grail, only then do his motives become self-less. He helps Parry because he wants to, not because he needs to drive away his own guilt - this is very much part of the Christian Doctrine.
On the whole, The Fisher King is an intricate weaving of comedy, drama and tragedy. The direction by Gilliam is faultless, his attention to detail evident especially in the Chinese Restaurant scene, where he borrows from Chinese film-making techniques, using the vertical black bar wipe technique.
This is the type of movie which, on a superficial level, is only somewhat satisfying. However, it is on the psychological level where its real impact is felt - tragic, hopeful and uplifting. It is not the type of movie to watch if you are expecting to be entertained!"
One of the best Arthurian movies going
J. Angus Macdonald | Concord, CA United States | 05/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have a passionate love for the Arthurian legends. To paraphrase Robertson Davies, however, these tales have a poor history of being adapted to stage or screen. "Camelot", "Excalibur", "First Knight", "Prince Valiant" -- if you really love the tales, you know just how short these films fall.Then there is The Fisher King.No, you won't find King Arthur here. You won't find Camelot or Guenivere or the Questing Beast. What you WILL find is the essence of the Grail story. Parry (Robin Williams) is Percival the Fool as well as The Fisher King himself; Jack (Jeff Bridges) is a fallen king-of-radio. Both are wounded and in a related manner. Neither faces his problems head on. Each needs another to pave the way to forgiveness, acceptance, and redemption. The ultimate physical object that leads to this may be a swimming trophy, but it is also the Holy Grail itself. Why? Because it truly is, if you only believe.Along the way you meet the not-so-in-distress damsels (Mercedes Ruehl won an Oscar for best supporting actress; Amanda Plummer, who deserved one as well), the company of knights-errant (the homeless of New York City), an evil Red Knight, two even more evil local toughs, and the false-prophets from the land of television. Each of these is a person, or a type, from our own world. They also happen to fit the tales of the Holy Grail rather well. Forced comparisons? I leave that to the individual viewer to decide, but I found the characterizations marvelous. This is not a film about Real Life, but it is a film about something truer, something closer to the soul.This is a film that deserves multiple veiwings. If nothing else you are going to want to see the scene in Grand Central Station more than once (if you know the movie, you know what I'm talking about; if not, you are in for a beautiful treat). This is a film that teeters between rampant silliness and powerful truths. Somehow it never feels schmaltzy, forced, or preachy. Watch this film.Let the little man dance!"
Successful mixture of medieval and modern
Craig Clarke | New England | 03/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I hadn't seen this film since it first came out on video. I remembered certain things about it: that I had enjoyed it, that the Holy Grail played prominently in it, and that Jeff Bridges was very good in it.Those are all still true.Jack Lucas (Bridges) is a radio "shock jock" who inadvertently causes a listener to go on a killing rampage. This affects him deeply and he quits the business, turns to alcohol, and moves in with Anne (Mercedes Ruehl), the owner of Video Spot!, a store which seems to carry as many porn titles as mainstream ones. He is deeply depressed. One night, when he is about to end it, he gets attacked by thugs who mistake him for homeless. His life is saved by a group of homeless led by "Parry" (Robin Williams), a former history professor whose wife was killed in the aforementioned massacre. Parry has engulfed himself in the world of medieval knights (a "parry" is a type of sword thrust)--changing his name as well--and has received a mission from pixies to capture a trophy cup (which he believes is the Grail) located in a millionaire's castle-style home. Jack feels he must pay his penance by helping Parry retrieve the cup. One thing that is holding Parry back is that he is continually besieged by the Red Knight (a hallucination that represents the trauma which with Parry is not yet ready to cope, that is, it only shows up whenever something reminds him of his past). Along the way, Parry falls in love with a publishing accountant and Jack and Anne do their best to get the ultra-shy couple together.Terry Gilliam somehow brings this combination of Arthurian legend and modern New York together into a successful whole. Of course, the script by Richard LaGravanese is also first-rate. This is one of the most original films I have ever seen. Decisively top-rate entertainment."
A SENSITIVE BUDDY MOVIE AND A LOVE STORY...WOW!
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 01/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a beautifully directed film, as Terry Gilliam exacts bravura performances from the entire cast. This film is a cinematic masterpiece which the viewer will not easily forget.
Jeff Bridges plays Jack, a radio shock jock whose unthinking tirade provokes a caller into a senseless act of violence that culminates in tragedy for a number of faceless New Yorkers. The tragedy derails Jack's career and ends his glitteratti lifestyle. Gone is the fabulous hi-rise apartment, model type girl friend, and high paying media career.
Three years later, Jack finds himself living over a video store in a run down part of town with the video store owner, a blue collar ex-beautician, consummately played by Mercedes Ruehl, in a bravura performance that won her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, and deservedly so. Despairing of his life and looking like the bum he believes himself to be, Jack goes down by the water front and toys with the idea of killing himself.
The issue is taken out of his hands when he is accosted by two youths who are sick of "his kind", as they apparently mistake him for part of the great unwashed horde of humanity of which they are heartedly sick. They beat him with a baseball bat and douse him from head to toe with gasoline, but just before they ignite him, a knight errant named Parry, touchingly played by Robin Williams, comes to his rescue and saves him from an untimely and excruciating death.
Parry takes Jack to his refuge, and there Parry tells him of his quest for the Holy Grail. A curious bond between the two men begins to form. After Jack leaves, he later returns, curious to know more about this strange, but kindly individual who saved his life. Jack discovers that Parry was a former college professor whose own life drastically changed three years ago, when a caller to a shock jock's show went on a shooting rampage and killed Parry's beloved wife, one of the faceless New Yorkers who for Jack is faceless no more.
Jack, realizing that their lives are intertwined by that tragedy, seeks redemption by trying to help Parry resume a normal life. Clearly mentally ill, Parry's battle with his inner demons is seen through his eyes. The viewer is made to feel the heartbreak and pathos of his fears which are brought to life in the fearsome visage of the Red Knight, a figment of Parry's imagination who appears intermittently throughout the film, until it gives way to Parry's fragmented recollection of that fatal night three years ago. Robin Williams portrayal of Parry is one of the most beautifully nuanced performances ever. That he did not win the Best Actor Oscar for which he was nominated was truly a major faux pas on the part of the Academy.
Jack wades through Parry's fantasies of knights, quests, and the holy grail and discovers that Parry has fallen in love with an unlikely lady, the plainly hapless Lydia, played to perfection by Amanda Plummer. He engineers an unlikely meeting and sets in motion a dazzling sequence of events that ultimately results in his redemption as a human being, and an appreciation of his own lady love.
This is a wonderful film that no movie lover should be without. While the DVD is notable for its dearth of extras, do not let that deter you from adding it to your collection. The film alone should suffice."