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Robin Williams as PATCH ADAMS
by Michol Little

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Robbin Williams as PATCH ADAMS

Robbin Williams as PATCH ADAMS
I haven't written a column on a movie icon, star, or whatever you want to call your favorite BFF of the movies, but I discovered there is one character that never fails to intrigue me with his ability to morph from one personality to another. (Drum roll....) and I give you the greatest impressionistic, comedic and truly perverted, ROBIN WILLIAMS! Yes, I did check to see if anyone had reviewed him because, welI, simply must do my own thing and not what 10 others have in the past which most likely will bore you.

Even if you don't particularly enjoy RW's more vulgar comedic performances, I'm hoping you might view his form of genius (rather wacky at times) as one that challenges our imagination past the humor and vulgarity and into the deeply emotional roles he often undertakes. In fact, I am going to make this a TO BE CONTINUED...type of column for a couple of postings for no other reason than Robin has to his credit so many really, really good and GREAT movies that one column doesn't cover it. We can talk about his role as Teddy Roosevelt in the NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM; or his ever popular MRS. DOUBTFIRE which I've watched more times than I should admit especially when he catches his boobies on fire and uses pot tops to snuff the flame. Do you recall GOOD MORNING VIETNAM? Robin can make you laugh hysterically or cry with silent tears as we struggle through the emotions of his more intense scenes.

Did you know his career began with an appearance on HAPPY DAYS as the alien MORK which later developed into a TV series called MORK and MINDY having a successful run from 1978 until 1982? One of the episodes was so popular, TV GUIDE listed in 1997, "MORK'S MIXED EMOTIONS" among the best 100 TV episodes of all times.

With so many excellent movies in his career it is hard to pick just one to discuss: a scientist in AWAKENINGS (1990); the horrible film, POPEYE in 1980 that was a total flop, but an outstanding performance in his role as the man of muscle! Can we forget GOOD WILL HUNTING? Robin always mixes it up for us with sometimes nauseating clarity combined with slapstick humor. One of my all-time favorite movies is PATCH ADAMS, a 1998 film directed by Tom Shadyac, also director of LIAR LIAR, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, and ACE VENTURA-PET DETECTIVE. The film is
The REAL Patch Adams

The REAL Patch Adams
based on the book: GESUNDHEIT: GOOD HEALTH IS A LAUGHING MATTER by Hunter Doherty Adams.

Robin Williams plays the role of Hunter Adams (later acquiring the name PATCH), a troubled mature man who found his calling as a medical student who believes the way to healing diseases is to treat the patient instead of the illness with humor. Along with co-stars Daniel London as Truman who befriends PATCH (also seen in episodes of LAW AND ORDER and THE SOPRANOS) and Monica Potter as Carin, (a medical student who becomes the love interest for Patch), the story begins with Hunter voluntarily committing himself to a mental facility for depression and possible suicidal tendencies. He is assigned to a secured dorm room shared with mentally challenged Rudy who is afraid to get out of his bed because squirrels and bugs would destroy him. The facility's solution to his fears was to keep him medicated, but Hunter, in one of the funniest scenes of the movie pretends to destroy all the little devils in a firefight drawing the patient into the game play and finally convincing him for the first time to safely go to the bathroom by himself. Hunter also meets a depressed but brilliant mathematician, Arthur Mendelson who in real life is an oil tycoon billionaire and philanthropist, and tags Hunter with the name PATCH because he took the time to fix with tape a leaking coffee cup that continually ruins Arthur's research papers.

Throughout the movie we hear poignant snippets of script that forces you to stop a moment and actually re-think some very compelling dialogue. Arthur Mendelson the patient and billionaire, goes on to financially support PATCH in establishing his free medical clinic in the mountains of Virginia.

Consider this dialogue: IF YOU FOCUS ON THE PROBLEM, YOU NEVER SEE THE SOLUTION. SEE WHAT NO ONE ELSE SEES; SEE WHAT EVERYONE ELSE CHOOSES NOT TO SEE.

The film is based on the true life story of Hunter (Patch) Adams who attends the University of Virginia where his grades place him at the top of his class due to his ability to learn and retain the curriculum with minimal effort. Hunter goes on to establish the Gesundheit Clinic (took me a second or two to get the gist of the name), a medical facility that embodied the strong belief that humor it our
Carin and Patch at their free clinic

Carin and Patch at their free clinic
greatest medical phenomenon able to heal the soul which in turn empowers the body to heal itself. Don't you wish that is the way it always works so your Aunt Jane who died of breast cancer could have lived a bit longer? WAIT, let's think about that for a moment. Are we the selfish ones left behind when our loved ones pass on, wanting them to remain for our sakes a little longer? Or in using PATCH ADAM'S miracle drug called humor, is that truly the anecdote for achieving a certain quantity of quality-of-life moments during any debilitating and often terminal illness? Perhaps we all can take the worst events in our biological life and turn them into the most precious by using this treatment. There is something to this logic, so thanks RW for helping us learn to dig deeper into our inept methods of facing medical crisis and embracing the bravery-with-humor concept we wish we all could achieve. OK, I digress here but isn't it these "epiphany" moments that help us gain value from extraordinarily written scripts, imaginatively directed films and the genius of the likes of Robin Williams that give us those "Ahhhh" moments we remember for all times.

PATCH enters medical school where he turns an Ivy League institution into a playground for RW to prove he could be one of the funniest comedians ever born. He pretends to be a clown putting a red enema bulb on his nose while visiting a critical-care dorm of cancer infected children. He helps an older man and woman to have that one last fantasy they never could experience before their life on earth passes. All his antics land him continuously in the office of the DEAN who only wants to force PATCH to leave medical school accusing him of disrespecting such a prestigious institution. PATCH is seen as nothing but a clown, a prankster playing at being a Doctor. Over and over in the movie, we see that humor heals; and medicine should exist hand-in-hand with healing the souls of life's pain and disappointments. In the final scenes of the movie, tragedy strikes Carin and threatens to push PATCH back into his suicidal thoughts. It is the patients he has helped; the fellow medical students who believe in him; and the willingness of the Elders of the University of Virginia to reach out beyond their comfort zone and
Patch finally reading the poem at her funeral

Patch finally reading the poem at her funeral
empower PATCH and others like him to go beyond the normal and see that the medical field should not only treat the body, but also free the mind and soul enabling patients to see what no one else sees; a way to have a peaceful life, or a peaceful passing.

We see in the last scene of the movie PATCH graduating from medical school and pulling the ultimate prank as the Dean he fought with over and over hands him his diploma. The Dean seems smug when he tells PATCH that he is finally gratified that PATCH chose a more traditional dress for the graduation ceremony. In his usual quirky smile, PATCH turns and shows the audience that he has in fact worn a cap and gown that looks like the somber and sophisticated dress typical of this type of ceremony, but the entire back of the garment is missing showing Robin Williams' entire backside including a very naked butt. A typical ending of a Robin Williams movie, I'd say!

The real PATCH ADAMS graduated from medical school and went on over the next 12 or more years to provide free medical services to over 15,000 needy patients and develop a waiting list of over 1,000 eager Doctors willing to donate their time and efforts to treating the whole person and not just the physical symptoms.

There is a poem from the movie that I have for years longed to find and finally did. PATCH tries to read this poem to Carin several times during the movie but time and circumstances always interfered. The poem is by Pablo Neruda. It is Sonnet 17 of Neruda's 100 LOVE SONNETS available in English translation by Stephen Tapscott:
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way
because I don't know any other way of loving
but this, in which there is no I nor you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep
it is your eyes that close.

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A Little This and That
Every other Saturday

An update of current gossip surrounding the good, bad and just horrible events while filming different movies. What went wrong, who did what and the answer to the burning question, "What is the point of this movie anyway?"


Other Columns
Other columns by Michol Little:

Do Actors Necessarily Make Good Politicians?

Directors of Actors Make the Film

What movie nearly wrecked Kevin Costner's career?

Children's Top Box Office of all Times!

Dinesh D'Souza and 2016: OBAMA'S AMERICA

All Columns


Michol Little
I've been writing about anything and everything all my life: fiction, research projects, speeches and term papers for anyone who needed help. I'm a single Mom with all kids out of the nest, and now have time to really enjoy my writing passion. While finishing my courses for my MBA, I developed a burning desire to actually publish some of my work in fiction as well as research white paper on most anything that interests me. I work for a national retail food brand as a construction project manager which is my DAY job; and hope to increase my exposure as an author and ghost writer as well as write articles and commentaries for various venues. .



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If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Michol Little by clicking here.


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