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Patch Adams

Review by Jessica Brandt

I still don't know what to make of Robin Williams (see a previous review where I was confused on my feelings about Christina Ricci). I see him on various talk show interviews acting like a child hyped up on rock candy, and wonder if I should feel the same way about him as I do Adam Sandler (that feeling is "Get a new act, loser") or if I should feel "Damn, that guy is funny and the originator of such an act". I think the later should be correct.

In any case, Robin Williams is the absolute perfect actor for this role as an utterly hilarious doctor who cares about the patients as people, rather as "illnesses." I was in total belief that Williams himself was a doctor in real life, and that held this same attitude. Also, the fact that the real Dr. Adams was in a mental institution before going on to be successful sounded fitting for Williams, who probably should have been institutionalized before becoming an actor.

The movie plods along somewhat, while story lines are being formed, but that can be expected from a true-story adaptation. Williams' interaction with patients will melt your heart as well as keep you entertained. Somewhat unbelieveable, and predictable, is that Williams goes to med school as an older student, meets a very very beautiful college-aged girl (Monica Potter) and they fall in love through his wittiness. Yeah!

The plot is that Patch Adams is a man who felt he was suicidal and admitted himself to a mental institution, where he finds his calling in life: he realized that he wants to, and CAN, help sick people through love. He then gets out of the institution and goes to med school, where he meets said girl and a best friend and a mean roommate, reaks havoc, nearly gets kicked out a few times, cries to the dean, and ends up...well he either graduates or doesn't. I won't tell. But during the course of his 3 years of school, he tries to change peoples' views on medicine and healing, works with some patients, and begins work on his huge dream-- a free hospital in rural West Virginia. Everyone in the medical profession is against him, there's a trial, we all sweat it out.

Of course, there's the dorky friend and convert-ee, played believeably by Daniel London, and the hardcore "everyone in my family is a doctor" roommate played by Philip Seymour Hoffman (Remember Scotty from Boogie Nights? That's him! Very scary guy) who eventually turns soft in the end.

As with most Robin Williams movies, you're going to laugh a lot, and cry a lot more. Bring a tissue (you know the rule...movies that have sick kids = bring a tissue). The movie drags on a little in the middle, until a really unexpected plot twist towards the end snaps you right back to attention. You can't help but like Robin Williams these days, and the truthfulness of the story and the whole idea of what the real Path Adams is trying to do will melt your heart.

In real life, Dr. Patch Adams is trying to set up a free 40-bed hospital in rural West Virginia. The movie explains it more, and it sounds like a good idea to me. If you want to learn more about this great hospital, see the movie, and also visit The Gesundheit! Institute website and maybe even give a tax-deductable donation to this worthwhile cause.


(Out of five)

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