The Fisher King (1991)

Limo-riding, bum-ignoring Jack Lucas.

Limo-riding, bum-ignoring Jack Lucas.

When I was a kid, I thought Jeff Bridges was gross. I didn’t like the way his mouth moved. I blame this entirely on the movie Starman, which was one of the 50 or so VHS tapes my grandparents had in their movie collection, and which, as a result, I was forced to watch every summer. I didn’t learn to love Jeff Bridges until I reluctantly watched The Big Lebowski for the first time. Still, even to this day, when someone tells me Bridges is in a movie I have an immediate aversion to it; it was no different when we decided to watch Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King.

As so often happens, my aversion was totally unfounded. Bridges is just as

Jack & Parry, spying on Lydia.

Jack & Parry, spying on Lydia.

good in this movie as he is in Lebowski, and I could see seeds of the latter character here, although the “bum” he plays in The Fisher King is an entirely different breed than Lebowski. The bum here is Jack Lucas, a Howard Stern-esque shock-jock. His complete disregard for his faithful listeners’ well-being results in a mass-shooting at a local club. Of course, this ruins his career.

Three years later, he is consumed with guilt and liquor. His girlfriend Anne (Mercedes Ruehl) offers generosity and understanding, but this doesn’t prevent Jack from attempting suicide after a real low-down bender.

Of course Tom Waits is in this movie.

Of course Tom Waits is in this movie.

Jack doesn’t get the chance, though, because some New York toughs who like to rough-up homeless guys (and he does indeed look the part) come along and beat the crap out of him instead. Jack is saved by Parry (Robin Williams), and soon Jack finds out that Parry’s wife was murdered in the mass-shooting he feels responsible for three years ago.

Jack, ever the miserable, selfish bastard, thinks he can solve his own problems if he can unite Parry with the woman he loves from afar, Lydia

The always strange Amanda Plummer.

The always strange Amanda Plummer.

(Amanda Plummer). Through a series of goofball antics, Jack and Anne help get Parry and Lydia together, but things don’t exactly go as planned.

This movie is kind of awesome. I’m not sure what the best part of it is, but it very well may be Mercedes Ruehl as the stereotypical New York native, always clad in leopard print, and always with a cigarette in her hand. Though, as much as I hate to admit it, it might even be how darn touching the film is. Yes, it made me cry, dammit. It is funny, charming, thoughtful and sweet without being sappy or mawkish. It’s a five-star flick.


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