Williams gives award-worthy performance as the unorthodox doctor in Patch Adams

Patch Adams

MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 115 minutes
Starring: Robin Williams, Daniel London and Monica Potter

Rating: **** (out of five)

By Jason Caesar Consolacion
Co-Entertainment Editor

Why do most critics smash the movies that everyone else loves? I have no idea why it happens but it does. You know what I'm talking about, too. It happens very often.

Critics slashed Jim Carrey for the dark comedy Cable Guy, but Carrey fans loved the movie. Everyone said Titanic was too expensive for the "quality" of the film, but we all know how well that turned out.

And now we have Robin Williams' new drama Patch Adams, a film based on the true story of a doctor who defied the rules of authority to make hospitals a comfortable and carefree environment.

Critics have accused Williams of recycling characters from Dead Poets Society and Awakenings in order to portray Hunter "Patch" Adams, the Ferris Bueller of doctors. They say that Williams took the role only to "earn another spot on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

It's too bad critics feel that way because Williams' performance has earned the film two Golden Globe nominations, one for best picture and the other for best actor (Williams). Those nominations arenít for charity, either. This truly is a great movie. 

Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures

Robin Williams stars as Hunter "Patch" Adams, a misfit medical students whose unconventional approach to healing causes headaches for the medical establishment, but works wonders for his patients.

The film begins with the troubled Hunter Adams (Williams) admitting himself into a mental institution. An empty childhood has led Hunter to search for answers there, possibly through therapy sessions or by searching within himself.

After he earns the nickname "Patch" from one of the fellow patients, he begins to realize that the therapy sessions arenít working, mainly because he feels like he's talking to a brick wall. The doctors don't listen, nor do they appear to care about the patients in the ward.

Patch decides to take it upon himself to answer his own questions about his life. He begins to interact more with the other patients before he actually defies the mental disability of his roommate.

Realizing his ability to connect with people, Patch decides he wants to become a doctor to help people forget about their problems. He begins to research on interaction and behavioral patterns, ultimately looking into delving deeper into the relationships between a doctor and his patients.

The scene then advances to two years later, Patch's freshman year in college, and this is where the fun begins. His student life is filled with humor, innocent curiosities and a sweet love story -- basically all the works of a great drama.

The conflict that Patch faces throughout the film is his teacher's militant approach to his becoming a doctor. Patch spends half of his time attempting to defy the authority's "doctors are bigger than life" methods.

Williams is brilliant in this dramatic role, something he has been known for since earning praises for his first serious role in Dead Poets Society. However, it is the unique story of "Patch" Adams that makes the movie that much better.

The film also stars Monica Potter, who gives a fine performance as Patch's love interest, Carin. The character of Carin was actually based on a male character with whom Adams had no romantic relations, but because this is Hollywood, a romance was required for the film.

Nevertheless, Potter wins not only the heart of Patch, but the hearts of the audience as well. Her snobby prima donna attitude morphs nicely into the sweet and outgoing Carin that only Patch can see in her.

Other notable performances include Daniel London as Patch's partner in crime, Truman, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Patchís conceited roommate, Mitch. 

If there's one weakness in the film, it's the predictable dialogue and use of symbolism. Lines like "...I hated men...(long pause accompanied with tears)...until I met you..." and the symbolic scenes that make the outcome of the film predictable bring the film's caliber down a notch.

However, the film still wins you over in a sentimental Forrest Gump kind of way. Directed by Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor and Liar, Liar), Patch Adams is the year's best movie that critics love to hate.

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