Patch meets a host of other unusual characters in the psych ward ("Its a great place to people watch," he says), including one eccentric named Arthur, who, moments before leaving to develop a new formula for cat urine, gives Patch this sage advice: Dont listen to what youre told...think. You just might find a better way.
It is because of his ordeals there and later in medical school that Patch begins fighting back against the way aspiring doctors are encouraged to distance themselves emotionally from patients. He becomes committed to finding a way to better incorporate compassion, laughter and empathy to the healing process. Along the way he is confronted with his own tragic loss and a direct challenge from those who would stand in his way.
Lauded today as a champion of social change, Patch modestly states, "Icons of progress are not special, theyre just people who make the decision to work hard for something they believe in. I entered school 31 years ago to use medicine as a vehicle for social change. Im a foot soldier."
Says Tom Shadyac, "Patch presents a threat to many people because he challenges all of us to give more. And Robin embodies the same quality. Theyre both very deep, caring people who deflect tensions in life through comedy. They operate in controlled chaos. And they believe in giving, not getting."
He concludes, "I think weve made a movie that is true to the spirit and sensibility of Patch Adams. Its a really funny movie, a somewhat dramatic movie, a movie that will hopefully make audiences think and feel. As much as anything, I think it presents an unforgettable portrayal of a very special man by a very special actor."