Movie Review: Patch Adams

I am a big fan of Robin Williams, but I’ve missed several of his films over the years. Some of these are in my Netflix queue, and Patch Adams was one of them.

Patch Adams (based on a true story) is the story of Hunter “Patch” Adams, a med student who, a few years earlier, in a mental institution, formed some non-traditional ideas about how to treat patients. As he goes through med school, he takes the saying “laughter is the best medicine” to heart, and develops a philosophy of treating the patient, not the illness. 

There was not much about this movie that I didn’t like. There were a couple of parts where it got slow and I did find myself checking the time once or twice, but I think that had more to do with the fact that it’s a little longer than the average movie. There was one horribly sappy scene that would have been more at home in a decades-old animated Disney feature than in a fairly-recent dramedy based on a true story, but I suppose I can forgive one brief scene of this nature.

On the other hand, there was plenty about Patch Adams that I did like. Robin Williams, as always, gave a thoroughly enjoyable performance, bringing both levity and gravity to the role as appropriate. The writing was clever and the story meaningful. Although it was more serious than is my preference in films, it was enjoyable to watch, and I think any biographical film will be more inclined toward seriousness than average, so it goes with the territory. It’s a bit of a feel-good movie (though it has its darker moments), and it’s nice to see what Patch does for his patients and how his presence in their lives makes their hard times a little easier.

Four stars out of five. I enjoyed Patch Adams and took something away from it, but I probably wouldn’t watch it again. Check it out if you like Robin Williams’s more serious fare, movies based on true stories, or if you want a solid mix of laughter and drama.

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