Film: Patch Adams

Patch Adams (1998) is a Very Loosely Based on a True Story movie starring Robin Williams as Hunter "Patch" Adams, a medical student who wants to treat people, not just diseases. To do this, he bucks authority, dresses up as a clown, and acts silly and (on occasion) unprofessionally. Also features Philip Seymour Hoffman in a smaller role as Patch's roommate.

The movie centres largely around Adam's clashing with the old guard of medicine over how to treat patients. Specifically their cold and detached bedside manner. Patch argues they need to be more involved with the person and not treat them as another statistic, whilst his superiors point out that getting emotionally involved helps neither doctor nor patient.

Notably the film received a fair bit of criticism from the real Dr. Adams, one of many critics, over the film's representation of his views and philosophies. He believed it simplified all his work into "laughter is the best medicine". Furthermore it fabricates entire events such as making his best friend into a woman, to create a love interest, and having Patch commit several felonies which naturally his real life counterpart never did. To make matters worse, the money promised to Adams out of the film's profits by the studio were never paid to him- this massively delayed construction of the hospital he wished to build.


This film contains examples of:

  • Alone with the Psycho:
    • In the beginning of the film, Patch is forced to room with a man who goes apeshit on a regular basis in reaction to imaginary squirrels on the ground. Patch is, to say the least, uncomfortable with the arrangement.
    • Carin's visit to Larry Silver's house. It doesn't end well for either of them.
  • Award Bait Song: "Where My Heart Will Take Me" (aka "Faith of the Heart") by Rod Stewart, which infamously became the Real Song Theme Tune of Star Trek: Enterprise.
  • Broken Aesop: The movie makes the cases that doctors should care for their patients emotionally as well as physically, but midway through the movie getting too close to a patient causes Carin to be killed.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Patch does numerous "funny" things at the hospital, annoying Dean Walcott, but Patch's grades are among the highest in the class. Which is even stranger considering that he never studies or is shown on-camera utilizing medical knowledge.
  • Character Title: Dr. Hunter Patch Adams
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Patch because certainly a doctor that dresses like a clown is a weirdo.
  • Comedy as a Weapon: Patch believes in helping patients through humour and laughter.
  • Driven to Suicide: Patch's attempted suicide is what kickstarts the story. He attempts it again later on.
  • Dr. Jerk: Every single one of the doctors.. except Patch Adams is cold and refers to patients by their room number.
  • Fan Disservice: Patch moons the audience at his graduation.
  • Gender Flip: The person Carin is based on was a man in real life.
  • Idiot Ball: Carin answers the phone and hears an obviously insane man who wants "somebody to talk to." So naturally, she goes to his house alone. It doesn't go well.
  • Informed Attribute: Patch's medical knowledge. The audience never sees him study or actually tend to patients, but is just told his grades are among the highest in his class and when challenged by a character how that is when he doesn't study as much as everyone, Patch just gives him a The Reason You Suck speech instead. This was one of the criticisms levied by the real Adams.
  • Jerkass: Patch is this in the eyes of the Dean and initially to Carin. Some of his antics, such as the gynecologist setup, could be construed more as this than the opposite intention of being humorous.
  • Karma Houdini: Let's just say Patch gets away with a lot of stuff he shouldn't.
  • Koan: "If you focus on the problem, you can't see the solution!"
  • Lampshade Hanging: Patch's Informed Attribute about his medical knowledge is pointed out by his roommate who says "I know what you study, or should I say don't study."
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Carin's death serves to pile angst onto Patch.
  • Straw Feminist: Carin is obviously insecure about being a woman in a male-dominated profession, and refuses Patch's (platonic!) advances for fear of showing weakness and contempt for his carefree attitude.
  • Strawman Political: The social issue Patch is facing was not a revolutionary idea (the term "bedside manner" long predates him entering Med School), but almost all of the people opposing him act as though being apathetic Dr Jerks is the supreme goal of medicine.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Lots of changes were made. Most notably, the romantic love interest Carin was really a male best friend of Patch Adams who died in an automobile accident, not by being murdered by a mentally ill patient as Carin was.