These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Critical Dissonance: There appears to be an incredible amount of hate directed towards this movie (featuring only a 23% on Rotten Tomatoes), but it was a financial success. Since Williams' tragic death in 2014, the film is often mentioned among many common moviegoers' favorite roles for him, as well.
Designated Hero: Besides acting like a general Jerkass to his schoolmates in an attempt to make them laugh, Patch also does several extremely ethically questionable actions, like stealing drugs from a hospital and practicing without a license. He still gets treated as in the right, even when it ends up killing two people, and the only people who call him out for his actions are treated as humorless villains. Needless to say, the real-life Hunter Adams did no such thing.
Designated Villain: As pointed out above, the people who have the gall to call out Patch for his actions, or don't think he's as funny as he thinks he is, are treated as asshats who just need to get a sense of humor. Keep in mind that some of the things Patch did are crimes, and that all of his actions led to the deaths of two people, including his girlfriend.
Don't Shoot the Message: Many of the film's fiercest critics are those who believe in new forms of medical treatment and agree with Patch that patients should be treated as more than sicknesses to be cured and there should be services for those without insurance but detest the immature way these messages are conveyed.
At one point in the mental hospital, Patch gets a laugh by putting words in the mouth of "Beanie," a catatonic schizophrenic. Keep in mind that in real life, catatonic schizophrenics are very aware of what's going on around them during their catatonic episodes, even though they're powerless to respond, and are frequently upset by people doing things exactly like that. Now watch that scene again. Ouch. Making this particular one worse is that in Awakenings, Williams was portraying a doctor who was dealing with catatonic patients in the 1960's and it accurately touched upon the horror they experience being trapped inside their own heads - Sayer, the doctor, was very sensitive to their plight. Robin Williams should have seriously known better than to think this brand of humour was in any way taseful.
That stunt Patch pulls to the visiting gynecologists where he places a pair of giant inflatable legs by the college's door so the entrance resembles a giant vagina can come off as not funny, just Sick and Wrong.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Patch asks what happens when a doctor becomes emotionally involved with a patient and sarcastically thinks they might explode? He finds out when his girlfriend is shot by a psychotic patient. What makes this worse is that the killer's mental instability could have been detected had Adams run a background check.Like a doctor is supposed to do.
Glurge: This movie is supposed to be inspiring and touching but it has a jerkass character committing crimes. Even if you buy into it, it's still layered on too thickly.
Every single scene where Patch contemplates suicide is incredibly difficult to watch now that his actor, Robin Williams, has committed suicide himself. It's also much harsher to hear his line, "what's wrong with death?"
Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing his roommate, as both would die before their time in the same year.
You know, the government should pay for health insurance. This was hardly a new idea-most developed countries had universal healthcare by the time the film was made, and President Bill Clinton attempted to pass the same thing in the early 1990s as well.
At one point when Patch is entertaining terminally-ill children, he pretends to be a Cloud Cuckoolander doctor who is about to perform surgery: "My name is Doctor... [checks badge] ...Phil."
The villains argue that doctors should act professionally.
Patch's point: professionalism should not supersede humanity. He's criticizing the medical profession's tendency to distance themselves from their patients, to the disservice of the patient's mental well-being. He's not necessarily wrong, it's just that he tends to go too far in the other direction. Also, The film goes to the lengths of making the more professional doctors into strawmen by making them so emotionally distant that they've apparently never heard of bedside manner, such as casually talking about amputating a patient's leg in front of her as if she wasn't even there.
Opossing point: It's important to consider the doctor's mental well-being. Getting too attached to patients and then watching helplessly as they die can really put a person out of sorts. It's why they try to be more distant in the first place. In contrast, Patch does things like mock the concept of women's health and decides that those who aren't laughing just lack a sense of humor. (Or maybe they just, you know, don't like obnoxious people?)
At one point, Patch's roommate accuses him of cheating. Considering Patch has spent the entire movie goofing off and not studying at any point, yet also getting the highest scores of his class. The movie treats him as wrong for pointing out a cheater.
They Just Didn't Care: The real Patch Adams criticized the film for simplifying him and his ideas while prioritizing commercial viability over accuracy.
Took the Bad Film Seriously: In one chapter of Greg Sestero's book, The Disaster Artist, he recalls his experience on set with Robin Williams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who he described as very solemn as they were keeping in-character for the funeral scene. It astounded him to realize just how professional a comic actor like Williams could be, especially considering it's a scene fabricating the death circumstances of a real person.
What an Idiot: Carin brings her own death on her own person, via being stupid enough to drive all the way to the house of a patient that is obviously unstable, without bothering to call the police or tell anyone to come with her as support. Naturally, she gets shot to death for the trouble.