After a four streak of blogging on Robin Williams movies I’d seen previously, I decided to mix it up this week. Netflix caught on to my recent trend and began recommending to me all of the movies in their database containing Williams. One of the movies that flashed up, Patch Adams (1998), I had never heard of before. I saw that it was next on the Robin Williams imdb timeline after Good Will Hunting, then pressed play.
“All of life is a coming home.”
Patch Adams begins with Robin Williams narrating as he sits alone on a bus on his way home. From his opening monologue, Williams’ character is obviously in mental agony, searching for a meaning in life. He opens his medical cabinet, full of pills. It is 1969, and Williams’ Hunter Adams is being admitted into a psychiatric ward as “suicidal.”
After seeing how bad a psychologist can be, and how good it feels to connect to other people, “Patch” Adams decides to do something with his life. He decides to attend medical school.
As a med student, Adams cannot accept not dealing with patients until his third year. He goes behind the backs of his superiors and brightens the lives of all of the sick people he encounters. He even changes the attitudes of a few of his fellow classmates.
Adams’ need to make others feel better stems from his own need to forget his own pain. By helping others laugh, Patch is also helping himself. He starts his own free hospital for those with no insurance, and falls in love with a girl. However, a plot twist throws a wrench in Adams’ future plans when one of his depressed patients takes the life of the women he loves and then commits suicide.
Adams goes through another mental crisis, as he has to decide the reasons that he continues living and practicing medicine.
Once again, Patch Adams’ was almost kicked out by the dean of his medical school. To this he responds, “You have one responsibility, to be a dickhead. How hard can that be? All you have to do is make sure your head is a dick and its attached to your neck.”
Maybe Robin Williams was more like Patch Adams than any other character he portrayed. Maybe Robin Williams made so many other people laugh to take away his own pain. How loved, yet lonely, he must have felt.
This movie is based on a true story, as today stands Gesundheit Institute in Virginia, founded by Patch Adams. Patch Adams sets an example for how all of us should act towards each other. With love and kindness, and it all starts with a simple hi.