year: 1991
cast: Jeff Bridges, Robin William, Mercedes Ruehl
rating: ***

This is a magical film... that works. Nothing compares to its weird bravado and chaotic characters and no movie, in taking this big a risk in merging so many aspects, has succeeded as well. The plot centers on a shock jock radio guy played by Jeff Bridges (basically playing Howard Stern without the charm or humor) whose advice to a lonely man causes this man to kill people in a restaurant. Bridges sees the news report of the deaths (mentioning that he is the cause), mutters the f-word, and the film skips forward several years as he's working for his girlfriend in a video store (that rents VHS movies... ever heard of those?). His girlfriend is played by Mercedes Ruehl, in what I consider one of the best supporting roles ever. She firmly stands by her man as he slumps around hating the world and tries pushing him to succeed at the same time. She never goes over-the-top but she gives a very, very dramatic, charismatic performance which, in the hands of a less dependable actress, could have easily gone hammy. Director Terry Gilliam is at his best: not too kooky, not too normal; but normal enough and kooky enough to create a brand new genre of film: "urban fantasy"... and giving it a good name.

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