[box cover]

Patch Adams: Ultimate Edition

Returning to old ground he has covered before, Robin Williams once again dons the hat of the nonconformist in Patch Adams — along with a funny nose and clown shoes. Williams stars as Hunter "Patch" Adams, a medical student who believes that laughter is the best medicine and thus launches a campaign for humanity against the med-school administration — a cold-blooded, money-grubbing lot who care nothing about medicine or patients and only about their status as doctors. Throw in a bunch of sick folks who apparently have been neglected by the med school's hospital, a healthy dose of dramaturgy at its most odorous, and too many of Williams' boilerplate funny noises, prop gags, and pratfalls, and you probably won't need a medical chart to see where this patient is headed. Patch Adams is such a short-sighted, wrong-headed movie in so many ways that it's hard to know where to start a commentary on the matter, but as a general rule, movies are never interesting when the lead character is entirely faultless — a delivering angel from heaven as it were — and the antagonists are nothing more than sadistic twits (aspects that ruined both Good Morning Vietnam and Dead Poets Society, two other Williams-led "anti-establishment" movies). An unexpected plot twist towards the end of the film is delivered without context or purpose, except that the sudden tragedy gives our actors the opportunity to try their hand at some torturous dramatic scenes ("See, it's a serious movie too," the producers can be heard to note, defensively). What's more, the incessant reaction shots of nurses, students, and cancer-riddled children with bald heads (genuine cancer victims, the producers assure us), all offering up fake, hearty belly laughs for Williams' stale '70s-era stand-up routine, could almost make one 'fro up. If this is a rotten movie, it certainly was a popular one with American moviegoers, which only creates a greater disservice. As a "message-movie," Patch Adams preaches that laughter is medicine. The implication therefore is that if your physician isn't a stand-up comic then he must be incompetent, and that's not just a dumb idea to stick in the minds of Robin Williams fans — it's a dangerous one. But such could not prevent Universal from revisiting Patch Adams as one of their first two-disc "Ultimate Edition" titles, adding various new features to their previous Collector's Edition DVD. Disc One features a solid widescreen transfer (anamorphic 2.35:1) with audio in Dolby Digital or DTS 5.0; a commentary track from director Tom Shadyac; the behind-the-scenes "The Medicinal Value of Laughter: The Making of Patch Adams"; "Take 10 and Call Me in the Morning," a series of lists for living from Patch Adams, M.D. (we are advised to "Consider being silly in public. Sing out loud. Wear funny stuff."); an outtake reel; and a running photograph montage with the film's score. On Disc Two is the full-frame transfer of the film (1.33:1) with the same audio options, the Shadyac commentary (again); the "Take 10" feature (again); six deleted scenes; three sequences shown with storyboards and as they appear in the film; the theatrical trailer; production notes; and a script-to-screen feature and a Patch Adams website as DVD-ROM content. Dual DVD digipak with semi-transparent folding cover.

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