VIDEO CHOICE

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PATCH ADAMS (12)

The title character is based on a real person, Hunter "Patch" Adams, an advocate of "humour therapy". Robin Williams plays him as a compendium of his messiah/manchild roles from Awakenings, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, and, most distressingly, Jack. The film opens as most Robin Williams movies should end, with its protagonist checking into a mental institution. He doesn't stay long, though, his suicidal thoughts abating as soon as he's alerted to the cheering effects of his attention-hound antics. The logical next step is apparently medical school, where Patch's blindingly ugly shirts single him out as a free-thinking renegade. Dr Patch yammers on at length about the therapeutic qualities of humor; this amounts to nothing more than a buffoonish, scarily maniacal bedside manner. After a rigged crisis of faith, Patch regains his composure in time for a climactic tantrum before a medical review board - the aforementioned sick children then file in for a weepy encore. It's an unforgettable image, stunning in its crassness.

ORPHANS (18)

Actor Peter Mullan's writing-directing debut opens as a seemingly gritty, performance-driven drama. But it turns out to have unusually strong flavours. The film incorporates wildly irreverent humor, magic realism, and a semen gag to rival the one in There's Something About Mary. Over the course of one night, the film follows four Glaswegian siblings - one high-strung, one disabled, one homicidal, one practically bleeding to death. It's the night before their mother's funeral, and the disoriented quartet embark on separate misadventures that are absurd and poignant. The film is all that a comedy about grief should be: messy, cathartic, and deeply humane.

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