The One-Line Summary: Jack Lucas (Bridges) is a popular radio shock DJ who doesn’t much care about his listeners, always berating and insulting, going for conflict rather than compassion, until one day, his tirade encourages an on-air caller to commit a mass murder-suicide at a New York restaurant, causing him to quit his job, become an alcoholic and eventually head to the park with plans to kill himself where he meets Parry (Williams) instead, a delusional homeless man with a tragic story on a quest for the Holy Grail who convinces him to join him, giving Jack a new perspective in this touching, quirky, multi-award winning masterpiece by Monty Python alum, Terry Gilliam.
The Two-Line Blurb: While Jeff Bridges is truly remarkable and Robin Williams utterly captivates, it is Mercedes Ruehl who almost steals the show in a supporting role as Jack’s long suffering girlfriend Anne, who is always by his side, pushing him to better himself and showing him that there is forgiveness and retribution waiting for him if he is willing to bring himself around. Also, there is Amanda Plummer, a mousy, nearly invisible girl who catches Parry’s eye as he roams the streets, watching her carefully from a distance, enamored with her delicate way and personal routines that teach him everything about her without every meeting.
The Three-Line Set-up: Jack is broken man, and in the company of the unstable Parry, whose wife was killed in the incident that Jack provoked, he feels an unbearable pressure to fix him and rend the terrible wrong he is convinced he has done from his past. The secret may be Lydia (Plummer) as she has so enraptured the poor soul of Parry, a chance for love with her might be the redemption Jack is seeking. He approaches Lydia and arranges a date where he and Anne take Lydia and Parry to a Chinese restaurant where the two are instantly a match, ending with Parry singing a soft, lovely ballad in her name.
The Four-Line Moment: Parry walks Lydia home, and wearing baggy clothes borrow from Jack hemmed with staples, he stops at her stoop and professes his deepest love, a thing he thought was forever empty in his heart. She listens as he tells her all things he has noticed from afar, the idiosyncrasies and habits that define her, moving her to tears as she hears the sincerity in his trembling but confident voice. The late Robin Williams excelled at drama, as some of his best and most celebrated work attests, and here is no exception as he perfectly embodies a fragile, embittered man desperate for the feel of a woman and the hope of love. Fearless and uncompromising, this is arguably Williams greatest lead performance, and further solidified his status as one of Hollywood’s most capable actors.
The Five-Word Review: Terry Gilliam makes great movies.