A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film shows the importance and beneficial effects of laughter, and the positive results that can emerge when doctors see their patients as more than just their disease. It underscores the need for dignity and understanding when it comes to the sick and vulnerable.
Positive Role Models
Patch Adams is an earnest and caring medical student, driven by a desire to help others and ease their suffering through humor and compassion. He makes some major mistakes that are glossed over in the movie.
Violence & Scariness
An aspiring female doctor strongly hints at sexual abuse as a child; she is later murdered off-screen by a mentally disturbed former patient. A patient is given a realistic toy gun to shoot balloons made to resemble animals found on a safari. A suicidal patient is shown with knife scars up and down his arms.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Upon receiving his diploma, a student has the back side of his graduation gown open to reveal his naked buttocks. Some jokes include some sexual elements -- like a reference to a penis and a masturbation joke. A visual gag involves the word "cervix."
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Occasional profanity includes "s--t," "p---k," and "ass."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters consume alcoholic beverages at a meat packers' convention and act boisterous.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that much of Patch Adams takes place in a hospital and includes many emotionally intense scenes involving dying or sick patients. There is also an off-screen murder of one of the lead characters and past sexual abuse is strongly alluded to. Aside from this, the film does have some profanity, and Robin Williams' free-associative humor veers into the occasional off-color sexual reference and innuendo, plus one scene where his naked bottom is exposed. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
There are a lot of important points to be made in this nonetheless shallow movie. It's about the dignity that all of us deserve when we are scared and vulnerable, and about the importance of humor in the direst of circumstances. But Patch Adams undercuts its own arguments by presenting us with a hero who is more narcissistic than humanitarian.
If the real-life Robin Williams were a doctor, he would be the real-life Patch Adams, who believes that doctors should treat the patient, not the disease, and that sick, frightened people need to feel that those who take care of them are paying attention. Unfortunately, PATCH ADAMS is so unforgivably manipulative that in the concluding climactic scene, set in a courtroom just in case you weren't sure who the good guys and the bad guys were, you may find yourself rooting for the uptight by-the-rulebook dean of the medical school.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.