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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
No one is more evangelistic than the newly re born. Beware the ex smoker, the ex drinker, or the ex mental patient because he or she is likely to be painfully over enthusiastic, especially to the yet to be reformed.
Patch Adams is loosely based on a real character who, feeling suicidal in his twenties, admitted himself into a psychiatric institution. He soon emerged convinced that loving kindness will heal most ills, or at least make the disease more palatable.
The real Patch Adams entered and passed medical school in the 1970's and opened an alternative medical facility called the Geshundheit Institute which, if you can believe the film, offered free treatment of a sort; the sort that uses drugs pinched from the local hospital.
Enter Robin Williams as Patch Adams. If laughter is the best medicine, you're a bit of a Robin Williams fan and you enjoy a big dose of Hollywood fantasy, then this film will please you greatly.
He begins the film bedraggled and of course much older than the real Patch. He's depressed and might kill himself so he puts himself into the hands of the doctors.
He's locked into a room with a fellow patient called Rudy (Michael Jeter) who is crouched on the bed terrified of imaginary squirrels. Patch blows them away with imaginary machine guns and a doctor is born!
Cut to the medical school where an army styled dean (Bob Gunton, who played the warden in The Shawshank Redemption) is determined to turn his students into doctors; creatures far superior to humans. The stage is set.
This is classic Robin Williams territory. He plays the well meaning, very funny, inordinately warm human being who bucks authority and who appeals to the better instincts of those insensitive individuals who are in power. We've seen this before in Good Morning Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire, When Dreams Might Come and Good Poets Society; his kindly uncle persona. Williams has made this territory his own.
Patch Adams works the magic well. It's laced with terrific Robin Williams one liners which are often absurdly funny and lots of gently humourous slapstick clowning, largely to do with props such as enema bulbs as false noses or bed pans as shoes.
There are a succession of set pieces; the most unrealistic of which is the crashing by Patch with student friend Truman (Daniel London) of a Meat Packers convention; the most amusing of which is a wonderfully outlandish welcome for a gynecological convention; the most annoying of which is the wooing of a young medical student called Carin (Monica Potter) by the very middle aged Patch.
A middle aged lover for Patch would have been a pleasing variation on the old geyser gets young bird theme which is so popular.
And then there's even a court scene (in a hospital!) thrown in with an appropriate audience of cancer patients and you can be sure that you've been asked to leap through just about all of the appropriate hoops, but so what! Robin Williams can make this sort of stuff work pretty well.
Patch Adams is Robin Williams at his middle aged best. It's not as anarchic as Mork And Mindy, as energetic as Good Morning Vietnam, as sad as Dead Poets' Society, as funny as Mrs. Doubtfire or as wishful as When Dreams Might Come. But Patch Adams is pretty funny and reasonably intelligent.
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