The Fisher King (1991) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Fisher King (1991)



Critic Consensus: An odd but affecting mixture of drama, comedy and fantasy, The Fisher King manages to balance moving performances from Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges with director Terry Gilliam's typically askew universe.

Movie Info

Set in a highly-stylized and ultra grim Manhattan, The Fisher King is Terry Gilliam's magical reworking of an Arthurian legend. A burned-out, embittered radio deejay finds personal salvation after he is saved from death by a strange vagabond who takes him into a dark, fantastic quest for the Holy Grail.more
Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Richard LaGravenese
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 16, 1999
TriStar Pictures


Jeff Bridges
as Jack Lucas
Mercedes Ruehl
as Anne Napolitano
Michael Jeter
as Homeless Cabaret Sin...
Chris Howell
as Red Knight
John Heffernan
as Stockbroker Bum
Al Fann
as Superindendent
Kathy Najimy
as Crazed Video Custome...
Lisa Blades
as Parry's WIfe
Adam Bryant
as Radio Engineer
Paul Lombardi
as Radio Engineer
Ted Ross
as Limo Bum
Warren Olney
as TV Anchorman
Frazer Smith
as News Reporter
Harry Shearer
as Sitcom Actor Ben Sta...
Melinda Culea
as Sitcom Wife
James Remini
as Bum at Hotel
Mark Bowden
as Doorman
John Ottavino
as Father at Hotel
Brian Michaels
as Little Boy
Jayce Bartok
as First Punk
Dan Futterman
as Second Punk
Bradley Gregg
as Hippie Bum
Stephen Bridgewater
as Porno Customer
Richard LaGravenese
as Strait Jacket Yuppie
Anita Dangler
as Bag Lady
Diane Robin
as Receptionist
John Benjamin Red
as Motorcyclist
John De Lancie
as TV Executive
John DeLancie
as TV Executive
Caroline Cromelin
as Radio Show Call-In
Kathleen Bridget Kel...
as Radio Show Call-In
Patrick Fraley
as Radio Show Call-In
Mel Bourne
as Carmichael
Tom Waits
as Homeless Vietnam Vet...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Fisher King

Critic Reviews for The Fisher King

All Critics (54) | Top Critics (10)

Visually impressive, frequently pretentious, and extremely fluid as narrative (the 137 minutes sail by effortlessly), this mythic comedy-drama presents Gilliam as half seer, half snake-oil salesman and defies you to sort out which is which.

Full Review… | January 29, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The Fisher King has two actors at the top of their form, and a compelling, well-directed and well-produced story.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Working within the constraints of a big studio film has brought out Gilliam's best: he's become a true storyteller and a wonderful director of actors. This time he delights not only the eye but the soul.

Full Review… | April 7, 2008
Top Critic

Scary, touching, often hilarious, this modern fairytale is surprisingly enchanting.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

For every wild ride through Manhattan by an imaginary Red Knight trailing billows of flame, there is a small, comic encounter in a more down-to-earth mode.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

[Numbers] among the director's masterpieces.

Full Review… | July 8, 2015
Under the Radar

Audience Reviews for The Fisher King

A powerful and moving performance by Robin Williams is tempered by Jeff Bridges who just doesn't seem up to the task of portraying a character of any depth. Oh, and that hair! Dare I comment on the gawd-awful early 1990's fashion?

Christian C

Super Reviewer


An intriguingly original mix of fantasy, drama, and comedy concerning a brash radio host (Jeff Bridges) who feels responsible once one of his listeners goes off the edge and goes on a shooting spree. One of those affected by this tragedy, now a crazed homeless man (Robin Williams), crosses paths with the now haunted DJ, and the radio host feels this is his chance at redemption, even though his girlfriend (Mercedes Ruehl) is not supportive of it at first. Director Terry Gilliam is well known for being fairly whimsical and goofy with his material, and this film is no exception. It feels a tad unnecessary at times, but the script itself is so strong, and the performances are all so, so good, that this film remains likeable throughout its running time. It balances a lot of heavy material such as loneliness, madness, and depression very well, and New York City proves to be the perfect backdrop for a story such as this one.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer


With the death of Robin Williams, in review this film may be one of his performances that leave you heartbroken. Williams plays Parry, a homeless vagrant who is still reeling from the murder of his wife three years prior, via an insane mass shooter. Bridges is a shock jock whose thoughtless antics leads said mass shooter to do the deed. Playing on this achingly pathetic set-up, director Gilliam leads us by the hand through his mystical world, created by the bitterness of grief, the terror of self-actualization, and the wonder of change. Bridges and Williams both engender the sympathy of the audience with their human performances, symbiotic and yet complete opposites. The symbolism of the Red Knight is mythological but also telling of the psychological trauma induced by his wife's death. It is both the driving fear of the unknown and also the self-hatred that lends itself to Parry's psychosis. This symbol can be regarded as everyone's true fear, anyone's anxiety inducing parallel, and that not only is very touching when regarded as a metaphor for mental illness, but for those running from something in general. Very beautiful in execution, and always heartbreaking, no matter the context, Gilliam created a vivid world, and an even wilder set of characters for us to fall in love with.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

The Fisher King Quotes

– Submitted by Jao R (15 months ago)
– Submitted by Jao R (15 months ago)
– Submitted by Jao R (15 months ago)
– Submitted by Jao R (15 months ago)

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