As the death of beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams continues to break millions of hearts across the globe, I’m taking a fond look at the 1996 film Jack, one of his more underrated roles.
The film is a bizarre and gut wrenching cross of comedy and tragedy, as the best films often are. I will try and get through this without tearing up, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I fail.
He encounters bullying; young love and heartbreak, as young boys always do, and yet has to deal with the controversy of his size and appearance. He is used by kids to win basketball games and buy adult magazines, and yet ultimately he is able to find a friend in a young boy named Louis. We catch a glimpse of a young Jennifer Lopez in her early acting career as the boys’ teacher, Ms Marquez, but the performance that shines throughout is that of Robin Williams.
The film was marketed as a children’s film, with a low PG rating, and yet has tragic undercurrents of mortality. Originally it received a poor reception from critics who claimed that the juxtaposition between the comedy elements and the tragedy was in poor taste and made the movie less believable. Personally I feel that nothing is more believable than a constant battle between comedy and heartbreak; they are, in essence, the key factors in life.
Admittedly, the script is a little shaky and the more serious of the scenes do sometimes come across as a little abrupt. However, the film is not without a heart and certainly not without a soul; with a gut wrenching climax as always delivered beautifully by Williams, it may not be a classic, but it will always resonate with me as an important reflection of Williams’ versatility and commitment to his art.