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Reviewed July 31st, 2000 by Chuck Arrington


A compassionate physician, sure there are a fair amount of them (my wife being one of them) but in the late 60’s into the early 70’s there were none to be found, at least not in Hunter “Patch “ Adams estimation. After connecting with a fellow patient in an asylum, Patch realizes his truest calling is to help people, specifically to become a physician. Enrolling in the University of Virginia Medical School, Patch, began his studies quite differently than the other students. Disregarding established protocols, Patch began to actually treat the patients as people & not as diseases or numbers. Needless to say, his unorthodox approach to medicine brought him ridicule & reprimand. At one point, it actually almost cost him his degree in medicine. But no matter what, Patch was not to be bullied into treating patients in a fashion less than they deserved. However, his dedication was not without great cost to him & those closest to his heart. But, through it all, Patch persevered & continues to give Medical treatment with a smile to those whose identity was once a disease & course of treatment rather than a name, a face & a person in need of his never ending compassionate interaction.

The Audio for Patch Adams is fabulous. The 5.1 platform really delivers the intricacies of Marc Shaiman’s incredible score for the film. Hugely orchestral, the score is a character in & of itself. The wealth of emotions, this score extracts will surprise you in the most wonderful way. Another audio treat is the screen specific commentary by director Tom Shadyac. His insights are at times amusing but mostly in depth on the makings of the feature. Of most interest are his revelations about working with Robin Williams & the fact that the most awesome visual treat of the Smoky Mountains was not CGI but an actual shot with no enhancement. Great commentary! The one problem I did have with the audio was that the audio for the film was just as loud with the commentary track as without it. At times it was difficult to really hear Shadyac’s thoughts because his track was fighting for supremacy with the actual dialogue track for the film. Generally, when a commentary track is included, the dialogue track for the film is suppressed to the point where the commentary track is clearly the loudest & most upfront track heard. Just wasn’t done on this disc.

The video for the disc is simply crystalline. There were no signs of flecks or scratches, imperfections, or transfer errors that I could detect. There are two different editions of Patch Adams. One a full frame disc & one (the one in my collection) the widescreen, anamorphically enhanced disc. I really don’t like full frame editions, primarily because, the image has been cropped, pinched, edited & shrunk to fit the TV. The Widescreen version on the other hand, maintains the director’s original vision & the film’s theatrical presentation without any loss of image. The black bars on the top & bottom of the screen actually disappear after viewing the titles. So in all, the video is probably one of the best DVD’s I’ve seen to date. The colors are true, the flesh tones are accurate, the blacks are deep & there is no sign of bleeding in any section of the print.

The Extras on the disc are:

The Medicinal Value of Laughter-which is a 16 minute documentary featuring interviews with Mike Farrel, The real “Patch” Adams, Tom Shadyac, & Robin Williams. Primarily, it gives perspectives from each of the contributors regarding the merits of Patches’ visions & the lengths to which he went to fulfill his dream.


The outtakes are from two separate scenes from the film. One in which, Patch meets his roommate for the first time & the other in his anatomy/dissection class. Needless to say, Robin Williams is in his comedic glory & these outtakes are hilarious. During his commentary, Shadyac, identifies that he has hours of Robin’s antics & they are all as funny if not funnier than the instances contained herein. I almost split my sides with these outtakes, I just wish they’d included the balance of the other outtakes on this disc!

The Theatrical trailer, Production notes, cast & filmmakers bios & film highlights round out the balance of the special features on the disc.

Overall, Patch Adams is an incredible heartwarming story that works on every single level. The filmmaking is solid, the storyline is solid & the acting is top notch! If you are a fan of wonderful storytelling, this is your film! Robin Williams is simply incredible & his interpretation of Patch Adams is truly moving! I loved this movie & I’m sure you will too! Easily a rental or a purchase.


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