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Patch Adams

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Patch Adams

Starring: Robin Williams, Monica Potter
Director: Tom Shadyac
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: December 1998
Genres: Comedy, Drama

*Also starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Daniel London, Josef Sommer, Irma P. Hall, Peter Coyote, Michael Jeter

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Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

In this true comedy/drama, Robin Williams ("What Dreams May Come," "Good Will Hunting") plays Hunter "Patch" Adams, a manic-depressive who decides it's better to be a doctor than a perennial patient. Problem is: Patch is also a clown, infuriating the medical establishment by doing outrageous things. Based on the 1993 book "Gesundheit: Good Health is a Laughing Matter" by Hunter Doherty Adams, the film's timely theme is the therapeutic value of humor, characterized by a personalized approach to medicine, but writer Steve Oedekerk and director Tom Shadyac cater to Williams' talent for improvisation. The story begins in 1969 in Fairfax Hospital's Psychiatric Ward, where Patch voluntarily commits himself after attempting suicide and acquires his nickname by repairing another inmate's paper cup with a piece of adhesive. Patch then moves on to Virginia Medical College where, as an idealistic med student, he wants to "treat the patient as well as the disease." He succeeds brilliantly with the hospitalized children, using an enema bulb to make a red nose, and even with a surly, dying patient (Peter Coyote) but fails dismally with his up-tight roommate (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and the villainous Dean (Bob Gunton), who is determined to expel him. A serious fellow student (Monica Potter) with her own demons to exorcise provides the love interest, joining Patch to create an unconventional clinic to "use humor to cure pain and suffering" - and their Gesundheit! Institute still proves free care in West Virginia. There's joy and sorrow, despair and determination, not unlike Williams' far better "Awakenings" (1990), but the conclusion is sheer melodrama. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Patch Adams" is a syrupy, simplistic, sentimental 7. It's a whimsical, feel-good film.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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