Pros:children from Make A Wish used in the pediatric ward, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Cons:Monica Potter miscast, character all too familiar to Robin Williams fans
The Bottom Line: If you've seen a few of Robin Williams' films, then you'll recognize the character. I couldn't believe it was based in any way on reality until I saw it myself.
Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
Recommend this product?
I like Robin Willaims as an actor, truly I do. He has been in so many good roles in his career and has done some excellent stand-up work as well. The problem is that too many of the roles he chooses really dont challenge him. Instead, he seems to draw on the same character again and again throughout the films hes in.
In Patch Adams, Robin Williams is Hunter "Patch" Adams. He checks himself into a psychiatric hospital, and soon is troubled by how he and the other patients are treated. His roommate screams in fear over things that aren't there while being ignored. The psychiatrist Patch visits sits behind a desk but doesn't really pay attention to what he's saying. All of this inspires Patch to want to help people with what he sees as missing.
So Patch is off to medical school. In typical Robin Williams fashion, he turns the school upside-down. Its the 1970s and he's the oldest student there to start with. He tries to connect with the patients and fights against the rules against becoming emotionally involved with the patients. He has a few close friends and a girlfriend, Corinne (portrayed by Monica Potter). He doesnt get along with his roommate, Mitch (portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman).
The problem is, although its based on a true story, Patch Adams is not original. It's been done before.
It's been done before by Robin Williams.
It's been done before multiple times by Robin Williams.
Patch Adams, Good Morning, Vietnam, and Dead Poets Society are all similar. Robin Williams is the central character that comes in and breaks the mold of what's expected and challenges authority. He skirts the rules and grows in popularity. Then a tragedy occurs which makes him re-think all that he's been doing. And in the end, he leaves with his pride intact.
I really liked the extra on the DVD showing the real Patch Adams talking about the movie and his book and how all the events shown in the movie are things that happened to him, albeit not in the time period condensed for the film. Because, if I hadnt seen that, I would have sworn theyd just dusted off one of those other scripts and said now lets set this at a medical college
Robin Williams is Robin Williams. If youve seen any of those other films, then you know what hes like. His wacky monologues in front of seriously ill patients this time. I can understand wanting a different setting for these people than the feeling of waiting to die, especially the cancer patients. The problem is that I would have loved to have seen some other actor tackle it so that maybe the character seemed different than his other roles, and perhaps a little more genuine. I dont blame that on either Williams or the script, its just the unfortunate effect of taking too many of the same roles.
Theres also the problem of the lack of chemistry between Williams and Potter. Hes got twenty years on her, and it shows. Ten years maybe would have been all right, but it seemed at times as if she were almost uncomfortable with the role. In addition, shes trying to portray Corinne as a woman in medical school at a time when there werent that many attending just yet. Therefore she must be taken seriously. Shes an easy mark for Patchs irreverence but I never really saw him breaking through the walls she had put up around her and the two of them really having a romance. It seemed as if their relationship was all talk but it didnt seem like there was genuine feeling between the two.
Theres hardly anything Philip Seymour Hoffman does that I dont like and hes a supporting player here but a pivotal one. His role was maybe the best one in the movie just because he seemed to be the most genuine.
Many of the pediatric patients in the hospital were portrayed by actual children from the Make a Wish Foundation who were given this chance to appear in a film. I give a lot of credit to Director Tom Shadyac and Robin Williams for working with them and giving them such joy.
If you really want to know about Patch Adams and his Gesundheidt Institute, I would suggest picking up one of his books and checking it out. Otherwise, the movie is a miss for me just because it is all too familiar. The mail plus is how those kids being in the film was a dream come true for them. For that reason, I cant not recommend it. See, Im a soft-touch.
• The Medicinal Value of Laughter
• Feature Commentary with Director Tom Shadyac
© 2007 Patti Aliventi
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