Robin Williams was brilliant and it's no wonder why he was nominated for an Academy Award here. This is the kind of role I think he was best at. While there's some seriousness to the film, he really delivers the comedy. That's not to take away from Jeff Bridges, who did fine in the supporting role and was spot on with his deliver. There were a few moments where we had a glimpse what was coming from his as Lebowski. Mercedes Ruehl won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. I thought she played the character great and compliment Bridges really well in their relationship. I thought Michael Jeter and Tom Waits were outstanding in their minor parts... I didn't even know Waits was in it (apparently, it was uncredited)
Clocking in over 130 minutes, I was prepared for a long and stretched out movie. It was a pleasant surprise that the movie kept a decent pace and had my attention throughout. It had a good beginning with Jack in the studio, setting up his character as a shock jock radio personality that wasn't just playing the part on the air. We knew something was up with that last caller, and I think the scene was set up really well with Jack being as high on himself as anybody could be. I really liked the practicing of the sitcom line he was slated to deliver, 'forgive me!' just before everything came down with the news.
Our introduction to Parry was even better. Forget a gradual lead in to his situation... we're given a full on attack with his mental issues at the forefront... gallantly doing his duty as a knight, saving Jack from the assault and himself. I really liked the way Parry's mind was presented to us. The Red Knight made his fear a priority... it highlighted his issues from the tragedy and made them, along with his quest, as real to us as they were to him. There was a nice lead up to his big confrontation with the incident, and it was a bit of a shock to see the shooting... but I think it really made an impact to see him go through it leading us into the sad moment when he was brutally attacked by the same two guys from earlier, and more so repressed memories.
While we were served up a very convenient and happy ending... I liked it. I liked how Jack went about getting the Holy Grail (and that it was a simple trophy). I thought it was great that they included the line, "thank god nobody looks up in this town" answering any question from the audience of how nobody notices him. We have talked about multiple movies needing lines like thrown in... they're not absolutely necessary, but the add a little bit to the film.
One of the elements I like the most about The Fisher King is the call-backs. The most notable is Pinocchio... especially when Parry calls Jack out on the little lie about his girlfriend. (This also gave us a great, and fitting, joke... Where would King Arthur be without Guinevere?... Happily married, probably) Also, the continual clumsiness of Lydia... from the books, to the dumplings, to the movies and back to the dumplings with Parry. Even little lines such as when Jack sees the red knight on the stained glass window and says, "I'm hearing horses now, Parry would be so pleased..." I just thought it was really well done, and the timing with each was handled nicely. Even the ending an bringing them back to Central Park... It felt complete and right.
I thought there were three scenes that really stood out... two of them really outstanding. One was the office scene with Michael Jeter singing to Lydia. While it wasn't an overly important scene to the movie, it was funny and entertaining and showed Jack's personality changing (smiling in the elevator, noticing himself that he's on on a first name basis with the homeless people) and how much he was looking to get Lydia to notice Parry. Mostly, just a fun scene with the singing. Now, the two best scenes for me were the waltz in Grand Central Station and the first scene in Central Park. The really gave us the best view of Parry, away from his demons. Both scenes were also played perfectly by Williams.
With all that, it wasn't a perfect movie and I have a couple minor gripes. I liked the use of 'Hit the Road Jack' and 'I've Got the Power,' but there were times when the score just didn't do it for me. That's probably more a product of it being out dated, and it wasn't so horrific that it ruined any scene for me... but once or twice I caught myself thinking 'eh' about the music. The other minor problem for me was with the editing/cut choices. A couple scene breaks seemed a little too sharp, but the thing that stuck out to me the most was the dinner scene. I think this was a good scene, that could have been great... even up there with the Central Park and Grand Central station parts. The problem I had was the use of the transition effect. I understand that it was used to show the passage of time, but it felt disconnect from the rest of the film... and it wasn't really the type of montage that called for the distinction. For me, at least, it would have been better with each cut showing us a wide view of the restaurant, more empty each time until we end on the final shot of the scene with the place looking bare other than the seemingly annoyed employees.
Overall, I think it's pretty clear, I absolutely enjoyed The Fisher King. I'm sure there's more I could talk about (including the story of the Fisher King and the portrayal/message of homelessness, perhaps), but I want to wrap this up for now. With my minor complaints, I still loved the movie and it ends up slotting into, I think, the 2nd slot for Robin Williams movies for me, behind Dead Poet's Society and just a head of What Dreams May Come... pulling in a solid A grade. It also provides us with a strong Mediocre Best Actor candidate.