What Dreams May Come (1998)

What-Dreams-2

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Beautiful and imaginative.

After Robin Williams’ passing, there was one movie that I’ve more or less been avoiding because it brings it a little close to home…and it was just too soon. What Dreams May Come is a very well-known Williams film, and because it revolves around his character’s death…I thought it was a little chilling to the core to even consider watching – but now that I have…I’m really glad, because this is a truly beautiful film that took quite a bit of imagination to pull off.

It’s about a man named Chris Nielson who, a few years ago, lost both his kids to a grisly car accident. The loss caused so much grief to both himself and his wife, and it even brought them to the brink of divorce, but they pulled through. However, a freak accident claimed Chris’s life as well, leaving his wife to be a widow. In Heaven, Chris still felt his wife’s presence, as he lived in the magic of her paintings, which he always loved – but when she commits suicide, Chris must risk his safe and luxurious new home to find his wife in the impossible trap that is Hell.

Just the idea alone – that this is Robin Williams exploring the afterlife – chills me to the core. I know I shouldn’t really consider that for the review, but it really does now. It’s been a while since I actually watched this, so I couldn’t remember if it was a dark or light film – and I feared dark. It’s not though, it’s a mixture of both with a preference for light. In all honesty, it’s absolutely beautiful and imaginative. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I loved every second of it – in terms of visuals – and that’s a rarity for a 1998 film. The set designs sometimes were clearly just backdrops or green screened, but the cinematography was ingenious and captured what the film was ultimately going for.

However, I wasn’t the biggest fan on how the film defined suicide, that victims of suicide just go to Hell. Especially after the irony of Williams’ own passing – I don’t want to even think that Robin was immediately shot to Hell because he took his own life. I have my own beliefs on suicide, but I won’t get into it – just know that the description here kind of peeved me. Now, I understand why they did it that way – to progress the plot, I just wish it was a little different…like purgatory? I’m not sure. That being said, the way the film visually painted Heaven and Hell as two complete opposites was absolutely brilliant. Heaven is filled with smiles, and a world of visions that anyone can paint, while Hell is a desolate place where dreams are forgotten. It’s amazing actually, the thought process the visionary director must have went through to create this world.

In all actuality, this is a wonderful, beautiful film that does a really good job depicting love, loss, and even the subconscious. There have been films done like this in the past, but I’m not sure how many were so creative and honest with how everything was depicted. I was impressed. I just hope that somewhere out in the vast, mysterious unknown, Robin is painting his visions with a huge smile on his face.

The Good:

There’s no question about it. What Dreams May Come is beautiful in every aspect – from story, to acting, to writing, to visuals – this film has it all. It somehow captures both Heaven and Hell in the perfect light, without insulting anyone’s own vision.

The Bad:

I said it in my review – the depiction of suicide in this film, while it makes sense for the plot, really upsets me. They locked in the accuracy of feelings so well in this film, and how Heaven or Hell might actually feel – but the whole suicide thing really annoyed me.

Patch Adams (1998)

Patch-Adams

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Laughter = Best Medicine.

In my quest to find the best Robin Williams film since his recent passing, I think I may have found a prime candidate. The thing that’s really interesting about Patch Adams is that it stars two celebrities of recent passing – Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and watching it back again shows not only their impressive ability to act, but it also showcases something that’s almost haunting…then again, that’s probably just my subconscious speaking. As a film, Patch Adams has everything you could ask for in terms of Robin Williams, which brings me to the conclusion that this is definitely one of Williams best works.

This film centers on the true story of Dr. Hunter (Patch) Adams, played by comedic legend Robin Williams. After a failed…suicide attempt…Patch finds his calling in life – to help people through smiles and lightened spirits. His basic idea of being a doctor isn’t only to delay death, but to improve the quality of life. He does this through making patients smile, which is threatening to “professional” doctors that are trying to do their job. The more he tries to listen to patients and make them laugh, the more his colleagues begin to believe he doesn’t take medicine seriously, and instead is making a mockery of their established principles.

I’m not always the biggest fan of “true story” films. They either follow a structure I don’t care about in film, or are so loosely based on a true story that it doesn’t matter anyways – and Patch Adams is a film I more or less find an exception with, because Robin Williams fit this role so perfectly. It’s hard to imagine anyone else being Patch Adams, because the mannerisms and affect he had on others lives, let alone the love he felt for others mirrors Robin’s own life. The only real difference is Robin is an actor while Patch is a doctor.

It also poses some really good points that are still valid today. Primarily speaking, the indifference that hospitals can possess when dealing with people in need. They follow rules and procedures so much that some people are turned away for not having health insurance – and those people are often the people that need help the most. This issue has been raised before, and sometimes the main focus of other movies and documentaries, but because this film was about a lot of different things, short and sweet was the way to go. It’s kind of ridiculous to think that Patch Adams would pose a threat to anyone or anything, and the idea that the real man went through all that garbage is ridiculous.

Like any true story, the structure is basically – follow this guy around and experience his life with him. That’s great, but it’s not my preferred film type. I like something where I know where it’s going, where there’s a set plot. Patch Adams follows a more solid plot than most true stories, though. You know what he’s trying to do – he’s trying to be a real doctor while practicing his own methods at the same time. That’s a true story that I can appreciate. Plus, there’s plenty of great messages of hopes and dreams that you can eat right up.

The Good:

Patch Adams is clearly one of Robin Williams’ best films. His portrayal of the real doctor are absolutely perfect, and the messages presented are heartwarming and still important to this day. Another thing I like about this movie is that it’s not really a comedy, it’s a drama about a comedic guy – and the balance is really nice.

The Bad:

I…don’t…really know.

The Random:

Seriously, Rotten Tomatoes? 23%…? You know what movie I consider that bad? The Number 23 and The House and the End of the Street.