Patch Adams is determined to become a medical doctor because he enjoys helping people. Unfortunately, the medical and scientific community does not appreciate his methods of healing the sick, while the actual patients, medical professors, and hospital nurses all appreciate the work *he* can do, because they are unable to do it. Written by
Ari Herzog <email@example.com>
Patch Adams is based around the true life story of Hunter Adams, a very interesting man, who, after becoming suicidal and committing himself to a mental hospital, found a new lease of life and wanted to help people. Enrolling at medical school to become a doctor, Hunter became a flag waver for the "laughter is the best form of medicine" train of thought. Something that simultaneously irked his superiors and garnered a lot of patient support. A fascinating tale is given the Hollywood treatment with Robin Williams slotting into the role of Hunter Adams.
Not only is Patch Adams a fascinating story in itself, the reaction to it, pro & con, is also of high interest. I first ventured into this film a couple of years ago, believing it to be the devil's spawn. That belief was born out of the disdain brought down on it from the revered critics of the time. It's also suffered kicks a plenty from many a film fan during the advent of internet movie sites and the snowball effect that comes with such communities. I revisited the film just this last week to see if my initial positive reaction to the film still held. It did. What I found out was something I never knew the first time that I watched the film, namely it was well regarded enough to be nominated for awards. And not some by the bye magazine awards either. Williams was nominated for best actor at the American Comedy Awards and the Golden Globes, while the film itself was nominated at "The Globes" in the best picture category. It should also be noted that the film was a success at the box office. Made for $90 million, it's Worldwide gross in theatres was $203 million, and it was the number one box office film in America at Christmas 1998.
Why do I tell you these facts? I do so because sometimes the reputation of a film is distorted, such is the case with Patch Adams. Look, It's not a masterpiece or anything, it's an odd mixture of humour and drama and for Williams haters it's a definite no no. But it still has something for the discerning viewer. It's a film that is loaded in the protagonists favour, I mean who in their right mind could not side with the guy who makes the kiddies on the cancer ward laugh and cheer? Exactly. Things are further loaded by the portrayal of Dean Walcott by Bob Gunton, it's all snarling pomposity of the highest order, the suit you just love to hate. Then coming in from the side is Philip Seymour Hoffman as jealous swot room-mate, Mitch. Make no bones about it, the makers here are telling Hunter Adams' story; thus the other side of the fence is barely given any credence or intelligent debate. That's an itch that will not go away, but it barely stops Patch Adams being an emotionally driven, and potent, viewing experience.
If you have not seen it then you now have the facts to hand, it wasn't a bomb, the kind of lead balloon release that some would have you believe it was. It's divisive for sure, and, yes, it has problems that "us" fans are fully aware of. But maybe you will become a fan too? Williams is on full tilt animation mode, able to make one laugh and make one cry all in the confines of one little movie. And the ending, coming after the roller-coaster has done its run on the emotional track, is itself a form of medicine that you just can't get from the chemist. 7/10
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