Patch Adams (1998)
Directed by Tom Shadyac
Based on the book Gesundheit: Good Health Is a Laughing Matter by Patch Adams and Maureen Mylander
Screenplay by Steve Oedekerk
Starring: Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Daniel London, Monica Potter, Bob Gunton
After a stint in a mental hospital, Patch Adams (Williams) discovers a new outlook on life. After enrolling in medical school he begins to fight against the established way of doing things.
This movie is based loosely on the life of Doctor Hunter “Patch” Adams. The story was written by Steve Oedekerk (Kung Pao: Enter the Fist), and the film was directed by Tom Shadyac (Liar Liar). The movie stars Robin Williams (Hook), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Daniel London (Rent), Monica Potter (Along Came a Spider), and Bob Gunton (Argo).
This is a strangely serious story considering the star of the film. The movie works on themes of tragic loss, mental illness, and fighting the system. Luckily, the movie also works in enough comedy to make most of the movie a lighthearted experience. The story does a good job showing the maturation process for Patch Adams, as well as those around him. Unfortunately, the story also has some darker moments that don’t enhance the story as much as they stand out in contradiction to Williams performance. The dialogue in the movie does have some good moments, but it can’t make up for issues with the plot. Somehow the movie ends up feeling out of balance and a bit unsure with the ending. There are still some good payoffs, but the end of the movie weakens the experience.
This movie features two great actors who the world lost too soon. Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman play characters that couldn’t be more different. Their performances are just a few of the highlights from the cast of this one. Williams does what he always does and brings out his improvised style to liven up this movie. He also handles some of the more serious scenes nicely. This isn’t the best of Robin Williams’ films, but it’s got some good moments. Philip Seymour Hoffman, on the other hand, is all business in this one. His role almost comes across like a minor antagonist. He was the perfect choice for his role in this one.
The rest of the cast does a really nice job in this one. London, Potter, and Gunton all bring their characters to life with small touches that accentuate the big differences. Monica Potter does an especially good job playing opposite Robin Williams. With Williams laying on the comedy, she had to play the straight role. She has some nice moments with Williams where their chemistry is evident. Overall, the acting in this one is good. It doesn’t save the writing, but it makes for some fun moments.
Marc Shaiman was nominated for an Academy Award for his music in this film. The nomination for Best Music was the only one this movie received. The movie was nicely made, with some great visuals throughout. Overall, production on the film does a nice job bringing the people and the era to life.
This is a good movie that misses out on being great due to the plot issues. If you’re familiar with the reviews here, you’ll know that I don’t care about historical accuracy in these kinds of films. If you’re looking for a factual account, you’ll have to do some homework. Like most stories adapted for film, I’m sure some liberties were taken in creating the story. For fans of Williams or any of the stars, this is worth checking out. I would also recommend this one to people looking for a comedic drama or a dramatic comedy. I give this one 3 out of 5 stars.