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Comedy People - Robin Williams - At the Movies

Robin Williams, Best Supporting Actor in Good Will Hunting, has had a rather spotty film career. Anyone who has seen the dreadful Popeye, a role Williams himself slams in one of his comedy routines, or the equally terrible Jack, and his serious turn in the visually astounding What Dreams May Come (a DVD ruined in part by the extra feature alternate endings) knows that when it comes to the movies, Robin Williams can play anything and anybody. His movies run from Dead Poet?s Society, Awakenings, and the underrated Bicentennial Man to Hook and Toys and Jack.

Great Robin Williams comedy movies include Mrs. Doubtfire, where Williams plays a man who poses as a nanny to be close to his kids. His great comic talent is obvious in the role of Mrs. Doubtfire, a cross between Mary Poppins, Margaret Thatcher, and the late Julia Childs. Good Morning Vietnam, one of many serious comedies featuring Williams, is the true story of a soldier dj during the Vietnam war. Great comic scenes are followed by dramatic and sometimes violent scenes. Good Morning Vietnam is a dark war comedy in the tradition of Catch-22 and MASH.

Lesser known Robin Williams comedy movies include the excellent Moscow on the Hudson. Williams plays a Russian saxophone player who demands political asylum in the United States when the circus he works for visits New York. Williams is great in playing straight and he does in this movie. Moscow on the Hudson is a great comedy and commentary on life in the United States, the consumer society, the American melting pot, and has enough class to address the myth that anyone can make it big and get rich in the United States.

The weirdest Robin Williams comedy is not The World According to Garp, based on and rather faithful to the John Irving novel, but Death To Smoochy. Edward Norton plays Williams' competitor in the business of television stuffed animal. This is a very dark but funny comedy that really pays off when you listen carefully to the dialogue and especially the lyrics to the theme song to Williams' television show.

If anyone can steal scenes away from Robin Williams, no mean feat, it has to be John Lithgow in The World According to Garp. This movie by George Roy Hill features a solid cast that also includes Glenn Close. A usually honest adaptation of the great novel by John Irving, The World According to Garp features John Lithgow playing a transgender football player named Roberta. This is, being based on the work of John Irving, a dark movie with great comedic moments.

Of course, one has to mention Patch Adams. If ever there was a role created for Robin Williams, that of the doctor who breaks all the rules and uses comedy and laughter to treat sick kids, Patch Adams is it. This movie shows Williams is best when he can blend all-out comedy with serious drama. Or is it Awakenings?

Richard Lanoie

Other Robin Williams Reviews

Live On Broadway: Solid comedy DVD will not stand the test of time, too topical.

Man Of The Year: an almost watchable DVD you know could have been much better

Mrs. Doubtfire - Behind The Seams Edition: Classic Robin Williams movie with 1 extra DVD full of cool extra features.

Inside the Actor's Studio : Robin Williams: More than 100 minutes of Robin Williams at this very comedy best in an interview with James Lipton.

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