Laughter, the Best Medicine

By Morgun Roeder


I truly enjoyed the movie Patch Adams it was full of heart and had a good message to back it all up.


Loosely based on a true story, Patch Adams (Academy Award-winner Robin Williams) is not your typical run of the mill doctor. He believes that a laugh is all it takes to change a persons day and he’s willing to go to the next level to turn that frown upside down. Even when his career is in jeopardy he still risks it all in the hopes of reaching the punch line. Patch Adams is a heart filled tear jerker with lots of comedy to keep the laughs a-rolling.


I found myself getting attached to many of the great characters this movie has to offer so I decided to talk about them first because they are part of what makes this movie so enjoyable.

The first character I’m going to talk about is the protagonist and all around fantastic character Patch Adams (Robin Williams). I love his goofy, wacky, slapstick humor style that plays so well throughout the movie. I spent a good majority of the time just waiting for the next joke to come out of his mouth because I almost always found it hilarious. Now, I don’t think that his humor works as well with the romantic side story with Carin, but they are enjoyable nonetheless. Patch also had a fantastic character arch. For example, he goes from a borderline suicidal man with no purpose to a man determined to help others no matter the cost. When I first started watching the movie, I wasn’t very excited about Patch as a character because there wasn’t a lot going on with him. He started lack lustre but after the scene in the asylum with Rudy (Patch’s roommate) Patch started to almost become a different man. He had a purpose to fulfill; some meaning in his life that he could use as fuel. I feel like seeing him at rock bottom gave me a greater appreciation for the man that patch would later become. Lastly, after losing everything I found it inspiring the way Patch persevered and made his dream come true. For example, after Patch loses someone very close to him he is hit hard by the reality of this person not being around and almost turns back to his suicidal tendencies, but instead uses that person’s memory to fuel him towards his dream.

Another character that I want to talk about is Truman, Patches number one go to side kick. One aspect that I adore about Truman is his loyalty to his friends. For example, throughout the entirety of the movie Truman stuck by Patch no matter what crazy shenanigans he gets himself into. Nearing the end of the movie Patch decides to open up a clinic for the poor. With no supplies and little help with lots of patients, most would have left and gone back to their regular day to day life but not Truman. He stuck by Patch and helped him run the clinic and steal supplies to help the patients. Another aspect of Truman that I enjoy is his willingness to help others. For example, Truman is studying to be a doctor. From the second you meet Truman in the movie, you can infer that he has a willingness to help people from the fact that he is in medical school learning how to help people feel better. Another example is when he joins Patch in his free clinic. Patch needed help running his free clinic and he knew Truman was the man to help. Without a second thought Truman went to the clinic in the forest and started helping the sick patients because he knew it was the right thing to do.

In conclusion without such memorable characters the movie just wouldn’t be the same.

The second topic I want to tackle is sound design because it is another aspect that truly makes this movie enjoyable.

First, the placement of different types of music lays the different scene really well. For example, depending on what part Patch’s (Williams) character arch is going through, the music changes from no music when he is drifting away from his true purpose of helping people, music without vocals when he is making progress, and music with vocals when he is going through truly character changing moments. When we first meet Patch there is no music whatsoever because he is currently going down a dark path that is sending him towards suicide, but once he helps fix Arthur Mendelson’s (fellow inmate in the mental institution) faulty coffee cup he starts to change and you hear music without vocals. This happens again when Patch helps Rudy (his asylum roommate) get to the bathroom and Patch decides he wants to be a doctor, but this time the music has words indicating that he is going through major character changes.

Second, the music is also a good tool to get a deeper look inside the mind of Patch (Williams). Close to the end of the film, after Patch has suffered a great loss he makes a trip to a very tall cliff which makes the viewer think he has returned to his suicidal tendencies but something is off. There is still music playing in the background, then Patch shows great personal strength and declares to God that he isn’t worth it and decides to live on. I really enjoyed this touch because it helps the viewer get an insight into the mind of the protagonist and understand what he is feeling.

With such wonderful sound design it’s hard to not get enveloped in the story.

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Finally, I have to talk about some gripes I have with the movie. There aren’t many but I feel that they need to be brought up.

First, the side love story with Carin doesn’t feel like anything special. To me it feels like any old run of the mill love story. For example, it starts off as most love stories do. As it usually does the story goes boy meets girl, girl isn’t interested, boy does grand gesture to get her to notice him, she starts to fall for him and they fall in love. It’s no different in Patch Adams. There isn’t any character differences than your regular boy girl (other than the fact that I think Patch is way older which is kind of creepy) or ways that that they meets or fall in love. It all seems to be the a big case of deja vu.

Another nit pick, less of a big problem but something that still bugs me, is that it seems the directors is trying to force the emotions out of the viewer instead of letting them come naturally. What I mean is the character are trying way to hard. They force jokes instead of being generally funny. I call this more of a nit pick because I still enjoyed the jokes and laughed a lot, but it didn’t feel as real as some other films.

In conclusion, as any movie Patch Adams has it’s problem but there are not very many.


In conclusion, Patch Adams is a very enjoyable movie that I would watch again.


Additional Info


Genre: Comedy/Drama

Director: Tom Shadyac

Producers: Mike Farrell, Marvin Minoff, Charles Newirth, Barry Kemp

Writers: Steve Oedekerk

Narrator: None

Release Date: 25 December 1998

Actors: Robin Williams, Monica Potter, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bob Gunton, Daniel London, Peter Coyote

Awards: Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score. Also nominated for two Golden Globe Awards, for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Robin Williams).

Length: 1h 55m

Format of release: In theater and on digital

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-Asheville, North Carolina, USA

-Biltmore Estate – 1 Approach Road, Asheville, North Carolina, USA

-University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA (Campus exteriors, interior library scene)

-St. Helena, Napa Valley, California, USA (Funeral Scene)

-Berkeley, California, USA

-Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA (Campus exteriors)

-Mare Island, Vallejo, California, USA (studio)

-Point Richmond, California, USA

-San Francisco, California, USA

-University of California, Berkeley, California, USA (LeConte Hall)

-Piedmont, California, USA

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