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Patch Adams (1998)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Comedy, Drama  |  25 December 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 76,085 users   Metascore: 25/100
Reviews: 371 user | 55 critic | 21 from Metacritic.com

In the 1970s, a medical student treats patients, illegally, using humor.



(book) (as Hunter Doherty Adams) , (book), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
James Greene ...


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 <ari@ici.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

hospital | doctor | humor | student | 1970s | See All (73) »


Laughter is contagious. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some strong language and crude humor | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

25 December 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Docteur Patch  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$25,262,280 (USA) (25 December 1998)


$135,014,968 (USA) (28 May 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Patch's (Robin Williams) roommate in the mental hospital is played by Michael Jeter. In The Fisher King (1991), Jeter also played an insane companion of Williams'. See more »


Camera and boom equipment are visible (and in motion) in the door window as the gynecologists are approaching the door between the paper mache "legs" that Patch Adams prepared for their arrival. See more »


Arthur Mendelson: [Mr. Mendelson's attorney is expressing concern over him using his land for Patch's free medical clinic] You learn anything about proctology yet?
Hunter Patch Adams: A little.
Arthur Mendelson: Good, take care of this asshole for me, will you?
See more »


Featured in The 71st Annual Academy Awards (1999) See more »


Written by Sly Stone (as Sylvester Stewart)
Performed by Sly and the Family Stone (as Sly & The Family Stone)
Courtesy of Epic Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

Middle Vintage Robin Williams
28 March 1999 | by (Cairns Australia) – See all my reviews

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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