Stars: Robin Williams, Daniel London, Monica Potter, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bob Gunton, Josef Sommer. Written by Maureen Mylander. Directed by Tom Shadyac. Rated PG-13 for some strong language and crude humor.

In the late 60's, Hunter "Patch" Adams (Robin Williams) commits himself into a mental hospital because of suicidal feelings. While there, he is able to help a fellow inmate overcome his irrational fear of squirrels long enough to leave his bed for the first time in weeks. This minor incident causes Patch to reach an epiphany about the direction he wants his own life to go in. After checking himself out of the institution, he enrolls in the medical program of a prestigious university and shares with his fellow students the radical idea of treating patients with humor and respect. His unconventional methods place him at odds with the dean (Bob Gunton) of the school. But even while his future as a doctor hangs by a precarious thread, Patch's only concern is for the well-being of those in his care.

What can I say about "Patch Adams"? If the pervasive schmaltz doesn't get to you to the altruistic speech-making might. The filmmakers chose to treat their audience as mindless by having swelling music underline each "significant" moment in the film. What's more, the humor supplied by a restrained Robin Williams is only good for the occasional grin. And yet, as wholly predictable as the story is, it is still affecting emotionally. Even when you know what's coming, it's hard not to get caught up in the life-affirming enthusiasm on display. But all is not honey and roses. There is one stark moment in the film where a tragedy suffered by a character felt for all the world like it was happening to me personally. How many movies can you say that about?

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