What a strange and wonderful movie! And also, a movie that is sadly quite overlooked in the careers of both lead actors.
Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges), is a self-centered, Manhattan shock jock in the vein of Howard Stern mixed in with a little bit of Rush Limbaugh. At least that’s the persona he puts on when on the air; at home in his luxurious high rise apartment, he’s just a regular guy.
All that changes one night when an off handed insensitive remark triggers an unstable caller to commit a mass murder suicide. After this, Lucas, out of a job, and overcome with guilt, becomes suicidal and despondent.
Three long years later, Jack does indeed attempt that suicide, but before he can finish the job, he is mistaken for a homeless man and beaten up by a pack of muggers. The man who saves his life, as the mechanisms of plot would have it, is a man named Parry ( Robin Williams), a widower who lost his wife in the aforementioned attack who has now sadly become a delusional homeless man convinced he is on a mission to find the actual Holy Grail.
When Jack pieces all of this together, he decides to help Parry, who is frequently tormented by visions of a Red Knight, find the legendary chalice in New York City. Bridges and Williams are two of the finest actors of their generation, and the chemistry is off the charts here.
Williams, who we all know battled depression in real life, brings warmth and soul to what in the hands of another actor could have been hopelessly cheesy and cliché tripe. Bridges here shows a range of emotions, and is a great straight man to Williams, slowly coming out of his character’s cold and distant persona to make a truly human connection.
This is a movie about compassion and empathy; universal subject matter that is further elevated by amazing performances, a really quirky story, and solid direction. Also a trivia note—Jeff Bridges can be seen here in the same Japanese baseball t-shirt he would later wear in The Big Lebowski.