Another in the “What the Hell Were They Thinking?” category, Patch Adams stars Robin Williams as an aspiring doctor who is bad at his job. Is he bad at his job because he’s terrible at practicing medicine? I wouldn’t know, because we never actually see him pretend to practice any medicine in this movie (at least not that much). Instead, he puts on a clown nose and makes sick children laugh for two hours. The kids are laughing, I’m not. That’s... kind of a problem.
Patch Adams is an over-silly, (sort of) fact-based, melodrama about a med student who challenges the status-quo by believing laughter really is the best medicine. The medical board is greatly offended by his horrible actions. You know? Making children laugh! The bastard! These ridiculous bureaucrats are the source of this idiotic movie’s conflict, resulting in Patch getting disciplined and we get lots of violins, and sad faces, and a bunch of people wear clown noses in protest, ect.
Robin Williams can be a great actor. We saw hints of brilliance in films like Good Will Hunting, the Dead Poet’s Society and in Awakenings, but when he is allowed to be “Robin Williams”, he is exceptionally annoying. I’m sure the director will just say “Have fun with the role.” to which Williams will reply by speaking in a stupid voice, bouncing around and basically beginning to make a lot of noise. Still, Patch Adams is one of the worst because we see Adams’ typical shtick followed by a kid with cancer laughing while observing his antics from a hospital bed. Am I the only one who finds this more than a little self-indulgent?
I’m going to use this word again (it won’t be the last time): Sanctimonious. This movie is so very, very proud of itself (It actually had the balls to be released on Christmas Day!). It relentlessly smashes you over the head with its holier-than-thou plot, over-the-top performance by Williams juxtaposed with the utter heartlessness of most of the other doctors and the utter banality of the screenplay. Director Tom Shadyac’s work isn’t bad; this isn’t an unattractive film as some of the sets are well done and the film has that sterile hospital look, which usually works for this sort of movie. The big problem with Patch Adams is that it just so full of itself. Given the logic and attitude of this movie, the fact that this film made my list of worst of the 90’s means that I apparently hate sick children. Based on the autobiography of the real Dr. Patch Adams, this one is far too silly to be taken seriously, and way too self-important to be a fun comedy.