If asked, I would say I prefer dramatic Robin Williams to comedy Robin Williams. I know that might be a bold statement but I would marathon Dead Poets Society, Awakenings and Good Will Hunting all day than some of his comedies.
Also, I can’t stand him on interview shows. If he could just sit in his chair and have a conversation, it would be a different matter all together. It makes my stomach turn. Jim Carrey also did this a bunch in his beginning days.
Inside the Actor’s Studio had a countdown to the fans favorite epsidoes. They kept featuring five of the episodes. Whenever they cut to Robin Williams’ episode, he was barely in his seat. Some people must really like it but I’m not a fan.
There is one film of his that I can’t stand and I thought I’ll finally express my thoughs on it and then I can stop thinking about it completely going forward.
At the same time, I thought I’ll just do a complete career retrospective and then I can see if I really do prefer one over the other.
If you want to play along :
Popeye – the first movie my mother told me I slept through as a baby. Saw it as a young child and thought it was okay. As a fictional character, I like Popeye. Olive Oil on the other hand, I can never understand why Popeye and Brut would fight over such a skinny woman.
Only seen a few episodes of Mork & Mindy, and it seemed dated by the time I saw it in reruns.
Good Morning, Vietnam – now that’s comedy gold there!
Adventures of Baron Munchausen – I saw this when I was much younger, and only for Uma Thurman so I don’t recall him in it as much.
Dead Poets Society – so many memorable moments. So many great lines too.
Awakenings – I’m not even sure what made me watch it but I’m glad I did. I think I was in a watching everything Robert De Niro was in phase and fell in love with it. It was on a movie channel so I saw it a bunch that month.
Hook – Has to be my first Robin Williams film I saw. Love the concept of it; love how it all comes together. I’m a fan. I’ll say more action adventure than comedy.
Aladdin – He is the voice of Genie. He is amazing at it but when they announced he wouldn’t be back for the sequel, I wasn’t upset by it or anything. They got the guy who did the voice from the Aladdin animated series and of course, he was good. Robin Williams voices him in the third Aladdin feature, I wasn’t sure if it was necessary but if you get Robin Williams to agree to do your movie, you don’t turn him down afterwards.
Mrs. Doubtfire – hated as a child but now I’ve gotten an appriciation for it. I think Pierce Brosnan being James Bond later, has made me like this movie more.
He played himself twice on the Larry Sanders Show, a show I really liked growing up.
Apparently he is in To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, a film I’ve wanted to see just to see Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes in drag. Johnny Legs is in it too. Also, not dying to see it either. Came out in 1995, and I’m not sure if it as ever really crossed my path.
Jumanji – Another fun action adventure. Kirsten Dunst is the young girl in it so how old much Robin Williams be?
The Birdcage – the commercials were enough for me. I’m not the biggest Nathan Lane fan, whenever he is on Modern Family is enough for me.
Jack – the first movie of his, that I remember thinking was a dumb concept and why would one even make that movie? He plays a boy with a growth hormone that makes him age to look like Robin Williams. ooof!
Aladdin and the King of Thieves – the sequel he did show up for.
Deconstructing Harry – I don’t quite remember him in it but I really like Julia Louis-Dreyfus in it.
Flubber – I also had no interest in this film. Passed on conception.
Good Will Hunting – I saw as I’m a bit of a Ben Affleck fan and Robin Williams really open my eyes on what type of an actor he could be. I must have watched Awakenings after this film, now that I think of it. Same for Dead Poets Society. Career defining and he got Best Supporting Oscar for it too, richly deserved! Shame we don’t get this Robin Williams more.
Patch Adams – here we go. Patch Adams is horrible! I haven’t been so angry at a film since this one. Not even sure why I watched it, I know I was at home. I may have been under the impression we were getting dramatic Robin Williams. What we got was offensive. Now, I should say this rage is from the 1998 version of me who is almost 17. I probably should rewatch the film but the idea sends me into another rage so I don’t think I can give it a second chance. So the film is based on the true story of Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams, and the book he wrote with another person. So it is suppose to be a first person telling of his life.
So this doctor figures out that humor is the best medicine and decides to open a hospital that is purely based on treating all cases with the highest dose of humor possible. Who takes their family member to this hospital, is beyond me. So he gets married to this nice lady, who I now learn is played by Monica Potter, who I really like from Con Air but mostly from Parenthood.
So Monica Potter’s character goes to this crazy guy’s house. There are all of these scenes and moments that clearly indicate, she shouldn’t go over there. Now, I recognize that is actually happened to the real girlfriend of Patch Adams, so I apologize ahead of time. This would be easier if this was a completely fictional story. Except, the scene in question, is completely fictional so I feel like I have some room to do this here. The screenplay is written by Steve Oedekerk, of Kung Power : Enter the Fist fame. So my problem is mostly with him, unfortunately.
Enough build up already, so the scene is Potter and the crazy guy, and they start off by having some wine and jokes and then it builds to the guy getting his gun out, confessing his love for her and he then kills her when she rejects him and then kills himself, murder suicide. Here’s my problem, the scene lasts maybe five minutes (maybe longer or shorter – my memory of it is it lasts a while) but the entire scene is fictional. No one survives the encounter. The police show up and maybe there is wine on the table and assumptions are made but the story is from Adams’ perspective, so it is how he wants the story to be known as but who is to say what really happened that night before the deaths. It could have been an affair, I doubt it, but it should have just been a scene of Adams telling her not to go, then him getting a phone call and going over there and getting the bad news. The scene is unnecessary on all levels. I get the whole “show don’t tell” aspect of movie making but depict the film as true events and then completely make up an entire scene.
Oh wow, so I’m reading the Wikipedia page right now and getting even more angry.
“The film has several major departures from Adams’ real history. One is that the character of Carin is fictional, but is analogous to a real life friend of Adams (a man) who was murdered under similar circumstances. Another difference is the then-47 year old Robin Williams portrays Adams as enrolling in medical school very late in his life, his older age even being brought up in dialogue. In reality, Adams started medical school immediately and his educational progress was quite normal for a physician: He graduated high school at 18, college at 22, and medical school at 26.”
Wow, so that entire scene isn’t even about a real lady (though I do feel bad about the guy dying” why even make that choice and have this be a plot point. Oh and it is a plot point as it steers the movie for quite some time afterwards.
Also, apparently this movie got horrible reviews so I’m not the first person to not like it. Also on the page is the reaction from the real Patch Adams, who didn’t like the film either. Which must be even worst for him. Imagine watching it the first time, the Monica Potter character comes onto screen, he’s all like “who is that suppose to be” and then the murder suicide scene happens and he is like “is this even necessary!?!” It isn’t.
Turns out, the hospital is one of those ‘free hospitals’ which is great cause! I will not be making a point to rewatching this. Robin Williams made 21 million dollars of it and he didn’t even give ten dollars to the Patch Adams’ hospital. Not like he has to but ooof, that isn’t good. Apparently also, the film promised to give or donate money to the hospital and never did even though it was a box office success. What a mess! Glad I decided to do this post, as I wouldn’t have known any of this.
On a lighter note, apparently Robin Williams has voiced the Genie in several other places. Disney’s Math Quest with Aladdin video game, the television series Great Minds Think for Themselves and Aladdin on Ice a TV Movie. That has to burn that he didn’t do the second sequel or the television series. I want to say James Woods did the voice of Hades on the Hercules television series, I could be wrong. No, he did, he’s like Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel the Little Mermaid, and he has done the voice of Hades whenever there was need to do so. Which I really like that type of ownership of an animated role.
Bicentennial Man- another film I passed on. I’m not a big fan of robots.
One Hour Photo – seemed to creepy for me.
Death to Smoochy – now this film, I really do love. I would place it more in the fun but dramatic column. Came out in 2002, so I may have had a mad on for Robin Williams that lasted for five years, that sounds like something I would do, so this movie put Robin Williams back in a positive light for me. Such a great film.
Insomnia – I remember not getting through it. I should revisit as it is a film by Christopher Nolan and I do like those Batman films of his.
RV – I, like most people, passed hard on this movie. The commercials confused me over who would watch it.
Man of the Year – I like the concept of a popular celebrity running for President and winning but Robin Williams doing what he does and the way the story is told (from the commercials) wasn’t my type of film.
Happy Feet – haven’t seen any of these
Night at the Museum – Took me forever to watch it, I’m sure I saw it on FX or something. I liked him in it as Teddy Roosevelt, it isn’t a big role. Not seen any of the sequels.
License to Wed – Also not have seen it but I remember thinking that it was the start of a new direction in his career, supporting character roles instead of leading man.
I’m pretty sure I saw his episode of Law & Order : SVU, Authority. That show, I can only stomach so much of. Not sure how anyone can watch four hours of it, everyday on USA. Seems like a waste of programming to me.
Wilfred – that’s right, he was on an episode of that, Progress. We love that show but the last season was a little hit or miss.
The Big Wedding – I should watch it as I’m a sucker for giant ensemble films.
Lee Daniels’ The Butler – a film I want to see, James Marsden as JFK sounds good. Robin Williams plays Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The Crazy Ones – As much as I like Sarah Michelle Gellar (I’m a bigger Freddie Prince Jr. fan – though it has been harder lately to be) I don’t watch nearly anything she is in but the commercials seem to show Robin Williams restrain a little. My wife liked the few episodes she saw at the beginning. I’m not sure why Sarah Michelle Gellar never did How I Met Your Mother, she’s the most notable absence from all of the Buffy / Angel guest stars. But that also failed to get Joshua Jackson and Michelle Williams (even when she was dating Jason Segel – the whole reason I thought he was dating her during that short window) but maybe they never sought them out either.
That’s Robin Williams career from my perspective.
Patch Adams though, still super frustrating!
I’ve only ever seen one of his HBO stand up specials, I don’t recall watching the entire thing.
He also was uncredited on an episode of Friends, The One With the Ultimate Fighting Champion. I like Jon Favreau’s little run he had on the show as Monica’s millionaire boyfriend. I don’t remember Robin Willians or Billy Crystal being in the episode’s opening but TBS and Nick at Nite seem to air the episodes constantly so I’ll pay attention to any reairings. Apparently they were there to promote (quietly) their film Fathers’ Day which I saw listed but couldn’t remember at all.
I also didn’t see the film with him and John Travolta as new fathers in their 50s. That also didn’t look good.