Reviewed by: Taran Gingery
|Featuring:||Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges, Mercedes Ruehl, Amanda Plummer, John De Lancie|
|Producer:||Debra Hill, Lynda Obst|
A modern day tale about the search for love, sanity, Ethel Merman and the Holy Grail
Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) was a cynical radio talk show host, whose crude and generally impolite responses to his guests hurt more than they comforted. One comment is cause of a terrible tragedy. Now Jack is a drunk—depressed, mooching off of his girlfriend Annie (Mercedes Ruehl) and “working” at her video rental store. Perry (Robin Williams) was a happily married mythology professor who became the victim of the terrible tragedy. Now he is a homeless eccentric who thinks that he is King Arthur on his quest for the Holy Grail and often recedes into his fantasy world to forget the horrors of the past.
Both men are searching for healing or forgiveness. Is it fate, as Perry hints, that brings them together?
Moral content: Perry is friendly and kind-hearted, if strange. He saves Jack’s life, even though he already recognizes Jack as a bad man. He commends Jack for doing good things, no matter how small they may seem to Jack. Perry clearly sees Jack and Annie’s broken relationship—and also sees through all of Jack’s lies. Jack is a man who is searching for redemption and thinks that if he helps Jack in his quest, he will find it. He willingly risks his life and his job to help Perry find the ‘Grail’ and often goes out of his way to bring Perry and the girl he loves (Amanda Plummer) together.
Sexual content: Unfortunately, in spite of his good heart, Perry is a very crude man. At one point he offers to have sex with Annie (by standing on the table, loosening his pants, and announcing his intent) and both he and the camera ogle Annie’s cleavage. Annie wears clothes that show lots of cleavage through most of the film. Elsewhere, as part of his eccentricities, Perry dances nude in Central Park, and we see full rear nudity and briefly full frontal, although it is much too dark to make out anything. Annie comes on to Jack, who says he’s not in the mood, but they end up having sex anyway (the camera cuts away from anything explicit). Later, she playfully jumps on him again, but nothing comes of it. A minor character dresses in drag and does a song and dance in an attempt to help Perry in his quest.
Violence: There are several instances of violence, but only two are graphic. They seem out of place with the feel of the movie. The first is when we see on television the results of the tragedy with several bloody bodies being removed. The second is in flashback when a character’s wife is shot, splattering him with gore, but the scene is very brief. Elsewhere, Jack is on the verge of committing suicide, when some gangsters catch him and douse him with gasoline, preparing to light him on fire. Perry reacts by firing toilet plungers at them from a crossbow. Later, the same gangsters attack Perry, beating him and possibly cutting him with a knife (seen from afar). As a result, he falls into a coma.
Language: Jack is very foul-mouthed and manages to throw around every bad word you can think of at least once or twice by the end of the film. Also foul-mouthed are Perry and Annie, but not nearly as bad as Jack. Perry also uses slang for male genitals several times and describes graphically ‘one of those really good bowel movements that’s borderline mystical’.
Spiritual content: Perry quotes the Bible several times (‘Ye of little faith’), and it could be interpreted that a character has a little shrine in honor of his dead wife. Perry seems to be battling his own personal demons in his past, and whenever he is forced to think of (and ultimately confront) that past, he is faced with a terrifying flaming red knight on a horse.
Based on the film’s description, I was hoping for an interesting drama with a touch of fantasy and humor. What I got was rather different and somewhat disappointing. All of the acting is good with Bridges carrying the film and Williams just being… well, Williams. While this film does have its moments, both funny and touching, I found the ending unsatisfying and unclear—and the immorality, foul language, and violence distracting from the more important themes of forgiveness and redemption, which were somewhat vague anyway.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
Year of Release—1991