Patch Adams

Collector's Edition

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - Tom Shadyac (Director)
Running Time 110:37 minutes Other Extras Biographies-Cast & Crew
Featurette-The Medicinal Value of Laughter (17 mins) 
Menu Audio & Animation 
Production Notes
Scene Selection Audio & Animation
Web links
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (53:50)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Tom Shadyac

Columbia Tristar
Starring Robin Williams 
Monica Potter 
Philip Seymour Hoffman 
Bob Gunton
Daniel London
Peter Coyote
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Marc Shaiman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.0
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages
Region 4
English (Dolby Digital 5.0, 384 Kb/s)
Soundtrack Languages
Region 2
English (Dolby Digital 5.0, 384 Kb/s) 
French (Dolby Digital 5.0, 384 Kb/s) 
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.0, 384 Kb/s) 
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.0, 384 Kb/s) 
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Region 4
English Annoying Product Placement No
Region 2
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    I suppose the first point to clarify is exactly what genre this film belongs to, as it seems that most consider this to be a comedy. I am not one of them: this is to me is a fine drama, which happens to contain significant comedy, which I think is true to the philosophy of Hunter "Patch" Adams. After all, it is important to remember that this is based upon the true story of a man who has plumbed the depths of suicidal despair and triumphantly returned, whilst giving the establishment a suitable rollicking at the same time.

    Patch Adams (Robin Williams) is a self committed patient at a psychiatric hospital, suffering from depression. During his self-inflicted incarceration, he comes to realize, with the help of his fellow patients, that he wants to help people. To do so, he determines to become a doctor at a rather belated age compared to most medical students. He has a brilliant mind, but a rather unorthodox philosophy that initially creates problems with the establishment at the medical school - most notably Dean Walcott (Bob Gunton). By sheer force of will, he eventually starts to persuade some of his fellow students as well as staff at the university hospital towards his views, although some still vehemently resist his ideas to the extent that he is dismissed from school, albeit before being reinstated. With the help of Carin Fisher (Monica Potter) and Truman (Daniel London) though, he does establish his visionary institute on a farm - with unfortunately dire consequences which lead him to reject his views. After being told that he is unable to graduate, he appeals to the State Medical Board and gets to graduate in his usual irreverent style.

    Whilst based upon a true story, some of the characters of the film are amalgams of many people in Hunter "Patch" Adams' life. However, the story is a compelling one that is brilliantly brought to life by probably the only actor who could possibly play the part - Robin Williams. Whilst he is undoubtedly the star here, the performance of Monica Potter is no less compelling - this is the second film I have seen her in (Con Air being the other) and I think she has a fine future. Amongst the support cast, Philip Seymour Hoffman is especially memorable in his performance as Mitch, the "born to be a doctor" over-privileged blueblood. This is a story that obviously caught the imagination of all involved, as this is a quite wonderful from every aspect. Bearing in mind that this is Tom Shadyac's fourth film (after Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Nutty Professor and Liar Liar), it would seem that a very good directorial career is blooming too.

Transfer Quality


    Their widescreen transfers have in general been to a high standard, and this in no way reduces that reputation for Universal.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a very sharp and well defined transfer, with a nice clarity to it. Overall shadow detail is very nice, with some very nice detail in the various hospital scenes.

    The colours are very nicely rendered throughout, with a nice degree of vibrancy. Early on the colours have a very cool, gray tone to them which switches to a very warm, glowing tone after the film switches to the medical school. There is no hint of oversaturation of colour and colour bleed is not a problem at all.

    There were a few, very minor MPEG artefacts noted, which would not probably be noticed unless you were really looking for them. For instance, there is a little loss of focus during the closing and opening of the medicine cupboard at 2:26; they did not really detract from the enjoyment of the film. There were no significant video artefacts noted, and whilst there were a few film artefacts, even those few noted were relatively minor and in no way detracted from the film.

    Subtitles can be selected via the remote control, and all subtitles are available via the remote, no matter what Region the DVD player is set to. The subtitle menu, however, is dependent on which Region the DVD player is set to.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change at 53:50. The layer change is quite noticeable and is a little disruptive to the flow of the film - although miles better than being a dreaded flipper of course.


    The soundtrack is also very good indeed, and the lack of a bass channel is barely noticed at all.

    The audio tracks available on this DVD are dependent on the Region that the DVD player is set to in the same way as for subtitles. They are selectable via the audio menu, and via the remote control. All audio tracks are selectable via the remote control at all times.

    There are five audio tracks on this DVD: English Dolby Digital 5.0, French Dolby Digital 5.0, Italian Dolby Digital 5.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.0, and an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 track. I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack as well as the English Audio Commentary track.

    Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The score by Marc Shaiman is very good, and is wonderfully supportive of the film and contributes well to the overall effect of the film. It is never intrusive and sounds as if the composer was especially motivated by the film.

    This is not an especially detailed soundtrack, with minimal use made of the rear channels other than for music. The film is of course very much dialogue driven so there is limited scope for massive surround effects, and therefore you do not really miss any detail. However, the resultant overall sound picture is quite believable.

    Sorry, no bass channel in this soundtrack.


    Well Collector's Edition it says, so we know that being from Universal we have something a little bit special indeed in store.


    This is the best menu I have yet seen on a Region 4 disc, with both audio and animation enhancements. The menu itself is also 16x9 enhanced. The music is especially well chosen from the film, and the use of the butterfly animation is most stunning. The enhancements apply not just to the main menu but all menus. About the only thing that prevents this from being superlative is the usual Universal problem of the highlighted menu option being slightly difficult to see at times.

Audio Commentary - Tom Shadyac (Director)

    Well you have probably worked out by now that I do not especially enjoy these commentary tracks. So when I say that I actually enjoyed this one, then it must be pretty damn good! Shadyac obviously is an enthusiastic person about his work and this comes across in a quite lively and entertaining commentary. The on screen action is used as a springboard for all sorts of insights into the way the film was made, especially noting where artistic compromises were required. Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this is well worth the listen.

Featurette - The Medicinal Value of Laughter

    A very interesting 17 minute look at the making of the film, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. There are also subtitle options of English and French for the featurette. Especially interesting is the input from Hunter "Patch" Adams, particularly regarding the feting of him by a certain (unnamed) director! About the only thing wrong here is that the audio seemed a little out of sync with the video during the latter part of the featurette - but note that I do have a Pioneer player that is probably overly sensitive to this. Sorry - there is one other thing wrong with this: it is too damn short!


    These are quite short in length, and judging by the audio commentary they could probably filled a couple of complete DVDs if they wanted to, but really are useful and funny insights into the improvisation of Robin Williams. Well worth a look.

Theatrical Trailer

Production Notes

Biographies - Cast & Crew

Web Links

R4 vs R1

    Released in three versions in Region 1, the Region 4 release is apparently identical in content to the Region 1 Collector's Edition. The other Region 1 versions are a Pan & Scan only version with minimal extras and a DTS encoded widescreen version also lacking extras.

    Anyone want to buy a Region 1 version? Unless DTS sound is essential, no overwhelming reason to do so.


    I first saw this at 35,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean after hearing some bad wraps about it, and could not understand why critics seemed to be so down on the film. Patch Adams is a glorious drama with a wonderful comedic touch to it that really does uplift the spirit a little. This is another Universal disc that should be an essential purchase.

    The video quality is very good indeed.

    The audio quality is also very good.

    The extras add quality to a damn good film package.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
24th October 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL