Eric’s Bad Movies: Patch Adams (1998)

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There was a flurry of wrong guesses last week, but only one commenter got it right: This week’s Bad Movie at Film.com is “Patch Adams,” a wretched, manipulative sham that stands as the supreme example of Movies That Make Us Want to Smack Robin Williams. So nice guessing, whoever it was!

Here is my anecdote concerning “Patch Adams.” In early January of 1999, I went with a friend to a theater in Salt Lake City for a screening of “A Civil Action.” I wasn’t really reviewing movies yet, but I’d gotten an invitation at the newspaper I worked for, so hey, why not. However, we arrived with just moments to spare before showtime, and the theater was already packed, so we couldn’t get in. Not wanting to waste the trip, we decided to see something that was also playing at this theater … and for some reason we chose “Patch Adams.” I don’t vividly recall my reaction, but I know it was not positive. Even with my critical skills still at a rudimentary level I saw through the film’s shameless fraudulence. Watching it again last week, I hated it rather passionately. There were a few times when I was yelling and gesticulating at the TV.

As for next week’s movie, it was going to be “My Giant,” starring Billy Crystal and a very tall man. But I sat down to watch it the other night and was dismayed to learn that it’s actually not all that bad. I’m not saying it’s good, just that it’s not terrible. More like a mediocre but good-natured sitcom. I had to turn it off after a half hour or so because I couldn’t afford to waste my time watching something that wasn’t excruciating. You see what my life has become.

So you get to guess on what the replacement film for next week is. (Don’t worry, I’ve watched it, and it’s appropriately awful.) Your clues are that it was released in the mid ’80s (think ’84-’86); it was rated PG and generally aimed at families; it starred someone who had previously starred in a cult-favorite TV show; and though it was a box office flop, I think many people will recognize the title and basic premise. You might have even seen it on video.

Guess away! And in the meantime, enjoy my assessment of “Patch Adams.”

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