Director: Terry Gilliam
Year Released: 1991
With a running time of about 2½ hours, director Terry Gilliam and screenwriter Richard LaGravenese throw pretty much everything at you from plot twists to medieval imagery to goofy Chinese restaurant hijinks and an intimate conversation about gender relations on the steps of an apartment complex. It's too bad, really, that with all of the talent you've got in this cast (Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, Amanda Plummer, a really stunning Mercedes Ruehl) that you'd have something to show for it. It's a parable about the dangers of excessiveness that doesn't seem to heed its own warning - it's a rambling narrative that takes you from point A to point Z without any real connecting power between the ends. Bridges is a Stern-esque radio show host whose opinions and hostility to his guests get him into serious trouble when a disgruntled, antisocial listener takes his "advice" seriously and commits an act of anti-bourgeois madness by opening fire on an elitist restaurant in NYC. Bridges is taken aback by this, leaves his job, gets involved with a video store clerk (Ruehl, who steals the show), becomes dependent on alcohol, meets a schizophrenic/catatonic/delusional street walker named Percy (Williams) and the two form an unholy alliance, each trying to 'save' the other. How this ends up at the very end - with Williams ending up in a hospital and Bridges returning to his radio gig - is beyond me. The film's alleged privileged signifier - a 'Holy Grail' some socialite keeps in his den - isn't well developed, and when the film returns to this plot point at the end you get the feeling LaGravenese is really stretching to make his story come together. Less a movie than a series of moments, it's more charming than captivating, more visual than intellectual and more fragmentary than cohesive. Some moviegoers were misled by the film's 'likeable' factor, and neglected to realize that nothing in it is remotely plausible (ex: What made Bridges' character 'change' at the end and return to Williams?).