Patch Adams

Patch Adams

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Hunter "Patch" Adams is a real person, who discovered in the asylum, aged 19, that he had a talent to amuse. What was more, he understood its importance in the healing process and knew what he wanted to do with his life. Given such a made-with-marzipan fruitcake of a story, you might think that Hollywood would turn it into The Mad Med Student and have the director of The Nutty Professor come by with cookies.

Well, they did and they didn't, but it turned out fine, thanks to Robin Williams, a gang of producers who believe you don't have to dumb down to feel right, a screenwriter (Steve Oedekerk) with a background in stand-up comedy and the guy (Tom Shadyac) who put funny fat into Eddie Murphy on the director's bench. The movie follows Patch from that mental institution to medical school, where he breaks every rule in his desire to get close to the patients. He doesn't believe in treating them as broken objects. They have names. They have feelings. He wants to communicate. He wants to heal.

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There is something about Williams that encourages compassion and commitment. Patch Adams may cut corners, simplify situations, sentimentalise even, but its heart is strong. Shadyac directed two of Jim Carrey's most popular films (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Liar, Liar). Here he stays true to Patch and lets the gags fall as they may. He is very clear in what he wants and is not going to let anyone trivialise the man. Although two hankies short of unforgettable (the final 15 minutes egg the eclair a wee bit), this is an emotional stormer. If you think red noses and Robin Williams equals corn syrup waffles, bake again. Patch tastes good. Believe it. What's wrong with having a dream and making it happen?

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Comedy drama based on the true story of a doctor who believed laughter is the best medicine.
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Director: Tom Shadyac

Writer: Steve Oedekerk

Starring: Robin Williams, Daniel London, Monica Potter, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bob Gunton, Josef Sommer, Irma P Hall, Frances Lee McCain

Year: 1998

Runtime: 115 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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