Patch Adams (Robin Williams) is a man lost. After committing himself to a psychiatric ward after
an attempted suicide, he has a rare ability. He can help people feel better by not being afraid of their problems. His experience convinces him
that he should become a doctor. He wants to help people. He begins his medical studies at the Medical College
of Virginia. While there, he begins to entertain hospital patients at bedside - a practice which is strictly
forbidden as first year medical students are not to have contact with patients. His outrageous antics put him in
conflict with the dean of the school. Although Patch has high grades, the dean declares him not cut out to be a
doctor and accuses him of practicing medicine without a license. Patch's graduation and future as a doctor are
At the risk of running in direct contrast to many reviewers, I found Robin Williams performance in Patch Adams
to be among his best work. I found it warmly engaging and one of his finest performances since Dead Poets
Society. The film was successful in holding my attention through numerous interruptions of an 18 month old
and his older siblings - enough for me to watch it twice in one evening; once to enjoy the film and again to
listen to the commentary track. The film also presents a first for director Tom Shadyac - known for his
comedy films with Jim Carrey and Eddie Murphy - a film with a real drama behind it. The film does have its
moments of laughter however and both are woven together into a film which represents what the real Patch Adams
is all about.
Universal Studios Home Video has presented Patch Adams very well with this Collector's Edition.
I found the 16x9 enhanced video transfer clean and free from artifacts. The score by Marc Shaiman is beautiful
and well represented. I found the sound imaging in the 5.0 soundtrack excellent as well. Universal has on
occasion produced a soundtrack without the .1 LFE track. Waterworld and Major Payne also are
without the LFE track. During the viewing of the film, the absence of the LFE track did not bother me.
As with many of Universal's Collector's Edition titles, the title features a commentary track with Director
Tom Shadyac. It is recorded rather oddly. It is in stereo, with Tom Shadyac located in center channel for the
most part. The film soundtrack is presented during the commentary in the left channel and at some points is
so loud and/or distracting it's difficult to focus on the commentary. By twenty five minutes into the commentary
I physically turned off the right channel to protect my sanity. Content wise, I found the track revealing and
informative. As in his previous commentary program, Universal's Liar Liar, there is so much material
he presents, including his reasons for using anamorphic 2.35:1 for the first time. I enjoyed this commentary
track, once I turned off the film soundtrack in the right channel. There is more than one instance where Mr.
Shadyac references and actually speaks to the DVD viewer. I'm interested to find out if the track is unaltered
on the LaserDisc. Accessing the track can be done as with most Universal titles through the "Bonus Materials"
menu and from the "Languages" menu. A bit of advanced warning, if you've never seen the film, don't listen
to the commentary on first viewing. There are a few story spoilers presented very much ahead of their time.
The disc also features a documentary, The Medicinal Value of Laughter. It is a 17 minute program
discussing the making of the film and includes interview clips with the real "Patch" Adams. It is not anywhere
near as in-depth as is the commentary and is shockingly short. There is a beautiful score included on an alternate
audio track which actually runs 4 minutes longer than the documentary and as a result is accompanied by a
black screen. The trend for shorter and shorter documentary programs concerns me and this one is no exception.
Much of what made special editions special back in the early 90s on LaserDisc are vanishing as quickly as the
LaserDisc itself. Also included as part of the supplements is a series of outtakes which runs just under 5
minutes. What we have here is very funny, but as was done with the Signature Collection of Liar Liar
is painfully lacking based on the amounts of improv that Williams is known for and are made reference to in
the commentary track.
There is a LaserDisc edition, part of Universal's Signature Collection, which includes all of the same
materials available on this DVD. Universal also is issuing a Pan & Scan version of this DVD which does not
include many of the supplements. A DTS encoded widescreen edition on DVD is also available. None of the other
editions were available for review at the time of this writing.
Overall, I enjoyed this edition of Patch Adams. While I'm not thrilled with the length of the
documentary and the outtakes are a bit on the skimpy side, the commentary track is worth the extra cost over
the Pan & Scan version. This film shows the wide range of Robin Williams as an actor and is worth a look.