Thursday, April 17, 2008


Revisited 1991's The Fisher King recently—Terry Gilliam directing a Richard LaGravenese script.

Despite some mixed critical reception at the time of its release, I loved this movie when I saw it in theaters. Readily forgave it for any flaws. I was a mad hatter for Gilliam since 81's TIME BANDITS. This was the first movie he was directing without having written the script.

But watching it again... there's so much great shit in there, the flaws seem magnified.

One scene seems like such a glaring misstep that I'm sure other people have written about it...

Homeless misfit Parry (Robin Williams) has been quietly pining after mousy office-worker Lydia (Amanda Plummer) for ages, not having the spine to talk to her. Jack (Jeff Bridges) and Anne (Mercedes Ruehl) manage to manipulate a meeting between the two, resulting in a lovely awkward-meet scene in Anne's video store.

Robin Williams plays this scene nicely, as does the great Amanda Plummer. Two emotionally-crippled people trying to make a connection. Terrific.

Next scene, Mercedes is feeding Robin... and suddenly, Robin Williams is no longer in character. He's in goofy Robin Williams mode. He gapes at Mercedes's cleavage with horndog eyes and suddenly makes a big, showy speech about how he wants to fuck her right there on the kitchen table.

IT MAKES NO SENSE. For this character who could barely talk to a woman in the previous scene. Even as a joke, it's incongruous that this emotionally crippled man would be able to express himself in this manner.

There are a number of missteps like this throughout the film. Large and small. Perhaps the original script was leaner and meaner. The great things in the movie keep it from failing, but it feels like there's a far greater movie buried in there.

I wonder if the musical theater people have tried to adapt the sucker, actually. Seems like it would lend itself to that kind of thing. For good or ill...