Patch Adams

Patch Adams is a delightful drama with frequent splashes of non-stop humor from the title character played by Robin Williams. Williams can make an audience laugh until they fall on the floor and can make them cry in an instant with his dramatic range.

This movie shows Adam’s life journey beginning with his self-committal to a mental hospital. There he builds a pattern of humor to deal with the doctors who don’t listen to him or the other patients. He finds that humor and happy thoughts act as a catalyst to help people recover from their problems and finds his identity and his name “Patch”. Later, as an exceptional student in medical college, Patch questions traditional medicine practices and becomes close with many patients.

The antagonistic medical dean, played by Bob Gunton (Shawshank Redemption) tries to “train the humanity out” of the students to make them doctors and consequently has frequent clashes with Patch’s whimsical outlook on life. Patch consistently connects with an initially reluctant love interest played by Monica Potter (Meet the Parents) who along with friend Truman Schiff, played by Daniel London, plays an instrumental part in forming Patch’s health clinic. Patch also fulfills special fantasies of his patients to help them forget about their health problems.

Patch forgets about his problems, mainly the dean’s attempts to get him out of the college, and gives his life a special purpose. Later in the film, Patch makes an uncharacteristic decision, which shakes up the plot and sets up a somewhat surprising dramatic event. At times the film becomes a little self-indulgent by portraying Patch as the saintly clown who can do no wrong.

High drama and hilarious humor makes Patch Adams a movie hero and real life idol who formed his own health institute. Director Tom Shadyac continues his progression from comedy to drama with touches of comedy and hilarious scene during Patch’s stay at the mental hospital (comparable to the lawyer’s meeting in Liar, Liar and the family dinner scene in Nutty Professor – both directed by Shadyac). Shadyac gets the most from Robin Williams who was perfectly cast for this film (he received a Golden Globe nomination for Actor in a Comedy for this film). Recommended with a few reservations (**1/2 out of four stars) and rated PG-13 for some strong language and crude humor.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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