Movie Review: Patch Adams

This content of this post originally appeared in the “JNL” section of the Janesville Gazette.

Robin Williams is hearing the voice of Oscar in his ear once again. He gives an amazing performance in “Patch Adams,” playing a middle-aged medical student who yearns to help people stuck in hospitals. In other words, he wants to “treat the patient, not the disease.”

“Patch Adams” tells the story of a once self-committed insane asylum patient who wants to become a doctor. Adams (Williams) commits himself to a mental institution because he’s suicidal. But he learns that he has a special knack for helping those deemed not able to be helped.

After leaving the asylum, Adams enrolls in med school. There, he becomes one of the top students in his class, but is admonished severely by the dean for visiting patients while only in his second year of school.

By other people’s standards. Adams has a radical way of thinking. People are surprised when he asks about the patients’ names. He treats patients with laughter and amusement; he becomes their friend instead of their superior.

Monica Potter plays Adams’ girlfriend at college. She gives a realistic performance, allowing Williams to play off her personality, making his acting even more believable.

“Patch Adams” is advertised as a comedy, but it is much more than that. Yes, it is, first and foremost, a comedy. but it also is a romance and a drama. it explores the ideas of the mind, equality between patients and doctors, and the value of human life, specifically those people admitted to hospitals.

“If you treat a disease. you win or lose, but if you treat a patient, I guarantee that you’ll win,” Adams says. What he means is: The doctor can either cure or not cure a disease. But the experience and value they gain by becoming the friend of the patient can only benefit them.

Few things about this movie bothered me, one being all of the off-color jokes thrown in. Most of them were unneeded; a few were there to emphasize points that were being made.

“Patch Adams” is based on a true story. one that is still unfolding in real life. Some of the major plot elements seem a little too odd to be real but they are just based on a true story.

This is the fourth time I’ve reviewed Robin Williams on the big screen and as it has been with the majority of his movies, it was funny, entertaining and enjoyable by all.


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