Reviewed by: Mia Burruss
Hunter Patch Adams comes to the darkest point of his life and discovers the hope of his calling “to help people.” After attempting suicide, Hunter Patch Adams commits himself to a mental hospital. It is here that Patch, as he prefers, learns how to look past the obvious. He discovers the best way to help a person who is sick is to first treat the patient as a human being, then address the illness.
Based on the real life story of a man who had a passion and a gift for helping people, “Patch Adams” (Universal), is a story of finding your purpose and pursuing it with all diligence.
Robin Williams plays Hunter Patch Adams with familiar zeal and schtick. He makes you laugh despite the fact that you have seen his antics before. Some of the humor has sexual undertones. Some of the humor is straight crude.
Patch’s fervor for helping people drives him to challenge the status quo of the medical industry. He wants to interact with patients in his first year of medical school, which is strictly forbidden. This doesn’t stop Patch. Patch’s hunger to help is stirred when he realizes that so many people needing health care are refused because of the bureaucracy involved with insurance and hospital procedures. He contacts former mental hospital mate, Arthur Mendelson, and acquires the use of his house not far from the school. Here, they open a sort-of clinic offering a warm smile and basic medical attention.
Monica Potter delivers a delightful performance full of warmth and subtle charm as Patch’s love interest and fellow medical student, Carin. She and another medical student are convinced by Patch to help him run the house to help the hurting. Unfortunately, a painful turn of events with Patch and Carin places Patch on the brink of quitting. After expressing his deep feelings with God (as he talks to the sky), hope returns in the form of a butterfly.
Patch has zeal and knowledge, but no respect for anyone who would stand in the way of him realizing his dream to help patients. This gets him into many confrontations with Dean Walcott (Bob Gunton), the head of the medical school in Virginia he attends. For all his zany antics, the school cannot deny that Patch has some of the highest scores in the school. His proven knowledge of his studies and his “testifiable” charm with patients saves Patch from expulsion.
In the final analysis, Patch’s compassion and commitment is to be admired if not his tactics. He did much to help hurting people primarily by making them laugh. And he challenged the established medical industry to look at patients as people rather than diseases. He was able to establish a facility to treat those challenged with sickness called the Gesundheit Institute, which is still in existence today.