Time: 115 Minutes
AWARDS: Academy Award nomination for Best Score.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm fan of Williams and I think he can be a marvelous dramatic actor. AWAKENINGS is proof of that. However, he needs a firm directorial hand and a really good script to keep him from exercising his comic craziness, which I think at times touches genius, but has no place here. Yes, his character believed in healing the whole person, not just seeing them as a body with a disease. And yes, he did help his patients by trying to improve the quality of their lives with laughter and a personal touch. However, there are "Robin Williams" moments in this movie, where he goes into what seems like a stand-up routine and that's just inappropriate.
I'm sure the real Patch Adams the film is based on is a funny guy, but come on. Robin is a gifted enough actor to be funny without being himself. These scenes just pulled me right out of the story, making me aware of him "acting" and that's just not acceptable. I could've forgiven the heavy-handedness of the film's message if the acting had been more subtle. In fact, it would have been easier to swallow, if everything was taken down a few notches. Instead, it was like being forced to drink original flavored Nyquil. You know it's a good thing in the end, but it's horrible going down.
I know that this was a very popular film and it's easy to understand why. Williams is incredibly likable and he's great as Patch Adams, a confused, intelligent man who finally discovers that he wants to become a doctor to help heal people. He doesn't fit in with the rest of the medical students not only because he's almost 20 years older, but because he has compassion and intelligence garnered from his life experience. He gets himself into trouble by bucking the establishment and refusing to quiet his innate sense of humor. Some of the students begin to resent him because he doesn't seem to have to study to get high grades and he has a way with people they just don't understand. According to the rules med students aren't supposed to come into contact with patients until their third year of school, but that doesn't stop Patch. The nurses look the other way because his presence seems to make such a difference to the patients.