[Screen It]


(1998) (Robin Williams, Daniel London) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
*None Minor Moderate None *Minor
Mild None None None Moderate
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Drama/Comedy: An older medical student's unorthodox plan to treat patients with as much humor and compassion as medicine meets resistance from other students and the school's dean.
After committing himself to a mental asylum in the late 1960's, Hunter "Patch" Adams (ROBIN WILLIAMS) realizes he has a gift for helping others. Enrolling in medical school, Patch immediately doesn't buy into the school's philosophy that doctors should have their humanity driven from them, a belief firmly held by Dean Walcott (BOB GUNTON).

Others have problems with Patch as well. His serious roommate, Mitch (PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN), thinks that Patch is too old and goofy to be in medical school, while Carin (MONICA POTTER), one of the few women at the university, refuses his friendly and romantic advances in favor of her studies.

Nonetheless, against school policy and Walcott's orders, Patch begins visiting the patients and treating them with his own special blend of compassion and humor. Despite their improved spirits and condition, however, Patch's behavior gets him into even more trouble with Walcott. As a result, he, Carin, and another med. student, Truman (DANIEL LONDON), set out to practice Patch's unique form of medicine away from the hospital.

Working his way toward graduation, Patch must contend with Walcott's efforts to kick him out of school as well as various other setbacks that cause him to question his belief in himself and his plans.

If they're fans of Williams, they most likely will.
For some strong language and crude humor.
  • ROBIN WILLIAMS plays the compassionate medical student who learns that helping others makes him a better person and so he sets to become a doctor. His belief that treating the person as much as their disease (through compassion and humor) however, often causes him to knowingly break the school's rules and disobey his dean's orders.
  • BOB GUNTON plays the medical school dean who opposes Patch's beliefs and behavior and tries to have him expelled.
  • DANIEL LONDON plays a fellow student who finally decides to help Patch in his goal.
  • MONICA POTTER plays another med. student who does the same, and has the beginnings of a romance with him.
  • PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN plays a serious medical student who has no time or patience for his roommate's shenanigans.


    OUR TAKE: 7.5 out of 10
    In a role that seems as if it were written specifically for him, Robin Williams pretty much hits all of the right notes in "Patch Adams." Based on the true-life story of a medical student (and later a doctor) who blended humor, compassion and modern medicine into a healing concoction that reportedly helped his patients more than traditional medicine alone, the film may get sappy at times and come off as over-sentimentalized at others, but for the most part it's an engaging, funny and touching story.

    Williams has nearly always displayed his combination of zany, highly energetic wit and compassion through the characters he's played over the years. From his role in TV's "Mork and Mindy" to his performances in funny and touching films such as "Good Morning Vietnam" and "Good Will Hunting" (for which he finally received an Oscar victory after several previous nominations), Williams has long been a crowd favorite exactly for those thespian abilities. This film will only further cement his status as the caring and compassionate class clown.

    Not being familiar with the historical details of the real Patch Adams, it's unclear just how much artistic liberty and license director Tom Shadyac ("Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," "The Nutty Professor) and writer Steve Oedekerk ("Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls," "Nothing To Lose") have taken with the source material.

    Nonetheless, they have supplied Williams with more than ample amounts of funny material, much of which is presumably improved upon, if not wholly generated by the whirlwind comic himself. During the film's two hour runtime, we get to see Williams clowning around with patients, extemporaneously addressing a meat packers convention, and generally behaving in a manner (silly faces, walking, costumes, etc...) that would have resulted in his character being sent off to a mental asylum if he hadn't already previously committed himself.

    The results are often quite funny, especially if you like Williams seemingly (and probably real) impromptu bits and performances, and there are plenty of laughs to keep the audience in stitches throughout (pun intended). There are also plenty of heartfelt moments, and that's where the film nearly loses its balance several times.

    While they're always of the crowd pleasing variety (ie. A tear to your eye, a lump in your throat, but a smile on your face), a few of the sentimental moments -- if viewed out of context of the emotionally laden material in which they appear -- nearly seem mawkish in design and delivery. Even so, and at least upon the first viewing of the film, you can't help but be overcome by their intended effect. As such, they, and their nice blend with the film's humor, will make this picture a big audience favorite.

    Of course Williams' presence doesn't hurt either. While he may go occasionally go just a bit overboard in either direction (exaggerated humor and eye glistening), his performance is as engaging as ever, and this film easily makes up for his misstep in "What Dreams May Come."

    The supporting performances are all decent, but obviously fall into Williams' huge comedic shadow. Patch's nemesis, played by Bob Gunton ("Glory"), is appropriately menacing in a dramatic sense, but unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view) never gets to show a human side behind his dehumanizing (for the good of medicine) efforts. One keeps waiting for that one standard-issue scene where he and Patch finally, but only partially connect, but it never arrives.

    Supporting star standout Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Happiness," "Boogie Nights") delivers another topnotch performance as the serious roommate, while relative newcomers Monica Potter ("Without Limits") as Patch's would-be girlfriend, and Daniel London as his somewhat nerdy colleague, are also good.

    With the notoriously bad reputation many doctors have for being uncaring or, at best, indifferent toward the person behind the malady they're treating, this film will strike a nerve among many moviegoers who've undoubtably been patients at some point in their lives. As such, Patch Adams the character, and the movie, find themselves in a no-lose situation.

    The audience immediately sympathizes with Patch's quest to be more humane as well as his fight against those who don't agree with his tactics and philosophy. Unless you're a diehard cynic, you'll have no problem falling in behind, and loving Patch Adams the movie, and the character. Funny, moving, and best of all, highly entertaining despite its few flaws, the film should be a big hit. We give "Patch Adams" a 7.5 out of 10.

    Here's a quick look at the content found in this PG-13 rated film. Profanity includes 6 uses of the "s" word, 10 slang terms using male genitals, other milder words and a wide variety of "colorful" phrases. Some sexual humor exists (in the form of straight out jokes, innuendo, and the use of an oversized sight gag). We also see Patch's bare butt in several nonsexual shots.

    Beyond that and the thematic elements of sick and dying people (including children), and mental patients, however, the rest of film is mostly void of any major objectionable material. Nonetheless, should you still be concerned with the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at what's been listed.

  • People may have had drinks at a meat packers convention.
  • We see a woman's leg that has ulcerations as well as a black toe (from diabetes).
  • We see a person's arm that has some slightly bloody lacerations on them.
  • Some may see Patch's blatant disregard for the school's rule as having some of both, while others will see Dean Walcott's behavior toward Patch as having both.
  • Carin hints at the fact that she was sexually molested as a child (not seen).
  • We learn that a person kills another person (not seen).
  • None.
  • No real ones, but Patch acts like he's shooting various weapons at imaginary squirrels, while later he gives a patient (who misses safaris) a fake gun with which he "shoots" balloons in his room.
  • We also hear that a man killed another person with a shotgun and then killed himself with it.
  • Due to crowd laughter, more than what's listed here may be present.
  • Phrases: "D*ckhead," "Idiot," "Fart," "Fart face," "Nuts" (testicles), "Suck," "I don't give a rat's ass," "Ball buster," "Scum," "Boner" (erection), "Idiot," "Cut the crap," "Chicks" (women), "Pain in the ass," "Screw up," "Screwed" (nonsexual), "Shut up" and an incomplete "You crazy mother..."
  • After Patch says "fart face," he and a bunch of kids all blow raspberries.
  • We see several shots of Patch's bare butt as he walks along in his graduation robe (that's open in the back and he's not wearing any clothes underneath it).
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Due to crowd laughter, more than what's listed here may be present.
  • At least 6 "s" words, 10 slang terms involving male genitals ("pr*ck" and "d*ck"), 6 asses (1 used with "hole"), 5 damns, 5 hells, 2 craps, and 2 uses of "God," and 1 use each of "My God," "For God's sakes" and "Jesus Christ" as exclamations.
  • Due to crowd laughter, more than what's listed here may be present.
  • We see part of a mental patient's bare butt as he's given a shot.
  • Patch makes a joke that he could "use my penis as a pogo stick..." as a way of getting around.
  • Joking and making fake questions that a catatonic mental patient (whose hand is always raised) would answer, Patch asks, "Who likes to masturbate?" and the other patients also jokingly raise their hands as well.
  • Patch comically address a meat packers convention with some innuendo by saying "In New Zealand they found a whole new use for sheep" (someone asks, "What's that?") and Patch replies, "Wool!" He also says "We're all gonna be the best damn packers there are...I'm proud of my meat. And I know you're proud of your meat. Whip it, zip it, send it out" (or something like that).
  • After Patch mentions Walt Whitman and Carin then says that she doesn't want him (not referring to sex), Patch says, "He wouldn't want you either. He's a homosexual."
  • Joking around in class and providing the voice of a human skeleton, Patch says (among other things), "I've got a boner."
  • Patch tells a patient, "Let's check out the maternity ward. You know those chicks put out."
  • During class when a professor says that Dean Walcott has an announcement, Patch jokingly chimes in that he's (Walcott) is going to announce his sex change operation.
  • For a tour of some visiting gynecologists, we see that Patch has erected a set of tremendously oversized women's legs in examination stirrups connected to the outside of a building, with the legs spread and leading back to a door where the imaginary woman's vagina would be (but no genital related items are present). Patch then says, "Come on in. Watch out, it's a little slippery."
  • We see several shots of Patch's bare butt as he walks along in his graduation robe (that's open in the back and he's not wearing any clothes underneath it).
  • None (unless some people were smoking at the meat packers convention).
  • While talking to a psychiatrist, Patch says that his father died when he was nine-years-old.
  • Patch sees a wife and her two kids alongside the bed of their very sick husband/father.
  • We briefly see a woman in the ER who's upset because her husband and child have just been killed in an accident (not seen) and the other child is badly injured (not seen).
  • The historical accuracy of the film in depicting the real Patch Adams and his story.
  • The issue of treating the patient or their disease.
  • What's wrong with the kids seen in the hospital (many have cancer).
  • Mental patients.
  • Carin hints at the topic of child molestation in her past.
  • The following is rated as mild because we don't see it happen, or even know about it until after it's happened).
  • We hear that a man killed another person with a shotgun and then killed himself with it (not seen, and it comes as a big surprise and has an impact on the characters).

  • Reviewed December 12, 1998 / Posted on December 25, 1998

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