Movie Review:
the fisher king (1991)

the fisher king (1991)

TITLE: The Fisher King

RELEASE DATE: September 27, 1991




A formerly successful radio shock jock, Jack Lucas, watches his life spiral downward after one of his callers commits a mass shooting. Jack is rescued from his suicidal depression by Parry, a homeless man who has lost his mind after witnessing his wife's horrific murder. 

Parry is on a quest for the Holy Grail, believing that its acquisition would restore his shattered life. Their paths intertwine in a strange, entertaining, and transformative way, healing the wounds from their respective pasts.


The Fisher King is a film that explores the themes of guilt, redemption, love, and madness in a modern urban setting. The film also offers a social commentary on the effects of media, isolation, homelessness, and violence in contemporary society.

It criticizes shock jocks and sensationalist media and the role they play in influencing people’s actions and opinions. It skewers the lack of accountability they have for the consequences of their words. Everyone listened to Jack poke at an unstable caller until the caller went on a mass shooting, but the consequences only involved him losing his job, and he acted like this punishment was paramount to what everyone else went through. Sure, he's haunted by depression and guilt, but he never faces real consequences for his role.

The use of the myth of the Fisher King provides a metaphor for the corrupted state of society. The Fisher King is the legendary figure who guards the Holy Grail, but he is deeply wounded and can never heal. Only a fool can accidentally save him. Clearly, these are the roles for Jack, Parry, and the quest for the supposed Grail, which Jack believes is a real thing, but is actually just learning to care for others again… and maybe forgive himself. To do things for others (and he does so gloriously when he sets off the alarm to save the old man).

The visions of the Red Knight and all the elements of fantasy and magical realism show us how imagination and creativity can be used to deal with adversity and with trauma. The fact Jack sees some of them (especially the Grand Central Waltz), demonstrates the line between mental illness and choosing to escape.


First off, holy hell what a story. Having spent many years working with people with mental illness and struggling with my own, Robin’s grasp on how to convey it is so beautiful and heartbreaking in this film. Jeff Bridges also hits his own forms of mental illness and addiction beautifully. The writing in this film is tight as hell, no matter who has called it “disorganized” or “rambling.” Between these amazing performances and Terry Gilliam’s gift for turning the world on its side, this film was damn near perfection for me.

I additionally loved that after what Parry went through, he was allowed to be in love/infatuated with someone again. So many movies leave the character stuck in the past and I was glad that, while that’s there, Parry was trying to move on with his life in some ways. And I can’t express how much I loved his relationship with Lydia. Was it insane? YES. That’s why it works so well

I loved how Jack set off the alarm to save the old man as well. 


Everything in this worked for me. I have no real complaints. This has skyrocketed to one of my top three so far. We’ll see if it survives up there when all is said and done.


The scene where Jack and Ann have to convince Parry and Lydia to go to dinner.

The dinner itself.

My favorite line was “But I do believe in fairies.” It worked as a joke and it seemed like a fun nod to another film I’ll be covering very soon.


No one warned me you see Robin's penis in this movie. I’m not complaining. I just wasn’t prepared.


Don’t worry. I’m prepared for World’s Greatest Dad.