Sad, sad day it is my friends, beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams hasn't been able to make us laugh much in the last year (except for when we re-watch Mrs. Doubtfire or one of his other comedy films), since his sudden and shocking death this time last year. So it comes as no surprise that today on this tragic anniversary many are sharing once again their mourning of the late star.
And as such I've decided, in my own memorial, to the outstanding, incomparable and damn near unstoppable Williams by presenting this list of my Top 10 personal favorite characters, roles and performances of his great career.
10. Popeye (1980)
For his feature film debut the outlandish Robin brought to life one of our most beloved (and old) comic (and later and cartoon characters), Popeye the Sailor Man, to life on the big screen. And while the Robert Altman film was a flop it did launch Williams into much more open waters, taking him to new heights in the film industry. Starring along side Shelley Duvall (as Olive Oyl) and with other notables like fellow clown and good friend Bill Irwin, Paul Dooley and Paul L. Smith (who played Bluto). Singing, dancing and yucking it up Robin not only performs the entire 2-hour escapade with one eye clenched shut, but also gripping a corn-pipe between his teeth..! If you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for? Go! Go! Go!
9. The World According to Garp (1982)
Following up on his brilliant comedic and musical work Robin starred in a rather odd little film about a young man names T.S. Garp based on the John Irving novel of the same title. Featuring John Lithgow and Glenn Close (Who were nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress (respectively) in a Supporting Role at the 1983 Academy Awards, only further proof of how good Williams was, clearly his portrayal of Garp was a good enough performance for Close and Lithgow to bounce off of thereby boosting their own parts in the film. Keep in mind when you go to watch this that it is not a comedy, it has humor but it is a dramatic film and proved that Williams was far more than just the funny-man.
8. Awakenings (1990)
In 1990 a dramatization of the work of Oliver Sacks, a British Neurologist who in 1969 discovered a new and beneficial use of L-Dopa on patients suffering from catatonia. Williams stars along side Robert DeNiro as Dr. Malcolm Sawyer (fictionalized name of Robin's role based off of Sacks) with DeNiro practically stealing the show as Leonard Lowe, the first patient to be treated successfully with the experimental drug test.
Now like I said, DeNiro really steals the show in this one, but as I also said before Williams was a booster and any actor who worked with him would most likely tell you that having him to work off of greatly improved their own performance. Robin not only keeps up with DeNiro as his character attempts to taken on the world again, but he pushes the story forward with the tragedy that he really can't do anything save this man he's come to befriend, and when we see that this has broken his spirit, we don't only see it, we feel it... It's a moving tale and though certain things have been changed to the true events for dramatic emphasis it doesn't make it any less worth seeing. That would be like saying GoodFellas isn't worth seeing because Joe Pesci was too short to play Tommy DeSimone...
7. Jack (1996)
Ok, so imagine this; it's 1996, YOU are Francis Ford Coppola (director of The Godfather, Apocalypse Now) and you have to pick a 40-year-old to play a 10-year-old boy. Who ya' gonna call? And I'll give you a hint, it ain't Ghostbusters! Yes, that's right to those who are unaware Robin Williams did indeed play a 10-year-old boy in the less then favorable (according to critical arseholes) Jack!
Jack is about a boy with a strange condition, it seems he ages at an alarmingly rapid rate, shaving by age 6 and being played by 40-something Robin Williams at age 10, and lets be honest, who better to play a kid in the body of a grown man. Despite what critic say though its an incredible movie, a creative blend of comedy and tragedy, a story of friendship and a heart-warming family film. If you can handle Fran Drescher's irritating voice in several scenes or so the rest is pretty easy. With Diane Lane (Man of Steel) co-starring as his hot mom and Jenny from the Block as his smoking hot teacher, there are more than a few things to enjoy in this one. It's worth it, give it a go, you won't regret it (most likely).
6. Good Morning, Vietnam! (1987)
YOOOOU KNOW it had to be on here, one of the greatest, if not the greatest (mostly) ad-libbed performance in any movie ever! Based on the true story of Adrian Cronauer, a U.S Armed Forces Airman and radio host stationed in Saigon, during 1965 and the Vietnam war. While there he meets a young woman and falls in love with her, soon befriending her brother and becoming close with them while teaching an English class to the locals. However things aren't all fair in love and war, something he soon finds out...
As with any of the movies on this list if you haven't seen it, don't just take my word for it, go see for yourself how good these really are. This story of love, hope, humor, betrayal and tragedy hits on all levels of emotion, it'll have you laughing 'til you're in tears and in tears until you find yourself laughing again.
Featuring other greats as Robert Wuhl and Forrest Whitaker, it can't be missed..!
5. Wizard - August Rush (2007)
Now this one may surprise you, for any who've seen this master-piece of music, film and art will be asking Why Wizard? Because I had to put at least one bad character that he's played in there and personally I like this one best.
If you saw the movie in 2007 or since then you cannot honestly say Robin wasn't a convincing baddie, not that he was entirely bad, he comes of as a bit of an eccentric father figure to the movie's protagonist, Evan "August Rush" Taylor (Freddie Highmore) but as we get to know him better we find he is not like the kind, loveable Fagin as we've come to know, he's much closer to a Bill Sykes (if you know your Dickens). A sinister and manipulative fellow, but not an irredeemable character.
There is a scene (not this one) that was cut from the movie that I wish wasn't when Wizard corner's Evan in a subway and shoves a guitar into his hand demanding that he "PLAY!" When Evan screams "I Can't!" and throws it at his feet you feel as if he (Williams) only now realizes the sort of monster he's become, he then tells Evan to run and at the end we see him crouched in the underground railway playing soulfully on his harmonica, his potrayal was freaky when it needed to be but also warm when required and his shift of emotional range is too good for me to put into words...
So that's why Wizard is on this list "you got that boy!" If you have yet to see August Rush, then put a ..Rush on it, if ya know what I mean..!
4. Good Will Hunting
Coming in at #4 is the movie that got Batman where he is today, yes co-written by Jason Bourne and the Batman himself, Good Will Hunting is the father of probably the most widely regarded and praised Robin Williams performances to date! Alongside the script writers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck he co-stared as Sean Maguire, a college professor and psychiatrist. Damon's character, the charismatic and intelligent but also troubled, Will Hunting is sent to Sean by his old college roommate after it is discovered by the the more esteemed professor that Hunting is in fact a genius working as a janitor.
Troubled though Will may be Sean make him fast aware he's not here to take shit from he cocky, arrogant kid, but to help him, if he is Willing (pun intended) to put in the time and the effort.
When he gasps Damon by the throat and practically whispers "If you talk like that about my wife again I will end you..!" We feel his anger surging as I'm sure Matt did on set, he brought ever bit of pain he could to this role, but also every bit of wisdom, and it truly shows, from his first scene to "Son of bitch, he stole my line..." he just freakin nailed it, did he not?
3. DEATH to SMOOCHY (2002)
I've kind of left the comedic out of this list (Not that these movies don't have their humorous side, I just find that Robin was a far better dramatic actor, I love his comedy but he really made you believe when he was playing a character going through pain or anguish) so, not to forget his funny side, here is without a doubt my personal favorite Robin William fun performance! Rainbow Randolph!
In this Danny DeVito directed black comedy about the seedy underbelly behind the scenes of a children's entertainment network, KidNet, Williams starts of as the King of Kids TV and his ego has inflated rather alarmingly. He's taking bribes, scamming parent, drinking and fucking around, but when he falls for a ruse pulled by a couple of undercover cops posing as rich parents. His whole world is thrown upside down, suddenly he's a pariah and no one will touch him.
Enter Smoochy, the lovable, down to Earth, nature-loving Sheldon Mopes (played by Edward Norton) who dresses in a homemade Rhino suit to entertain heroin junkies in Coney Island. He is approached to become the next star of KidNet, due to his squeaky clean status in the industry and he soon he takes off as the biggest thing since Barney!
Randolph begins to grow loathsome of the cuddly, purple man-mammal with a heart of gold, and plots to "destroy him" in order to get his place back in the hearts of the children. His unwitting delusions and over-all insane performance are hilarious and his on-going ride down mental-breakdown lane he makes hysterical. I saw this movie when I was 7 and never had I known Robin to be this kind of fowl-mouthed character with so many issues, but it was never not funny. Williams and co-stars Norton and DeVito have good chemistry on screen, the film is well directed, outlandish and clever. If you haven't seen a film where Robin rounds off several various nic-names for "Dick & Balls" you haven' lived. Please, I urge you, if you only ever see one of those films in your life, make it this one!
2. What Dreams May Come (1998)
This one will surprise a few I'm sure. Often held to be one of Robin's worst movies by a lot of people, I'm afraid I must disagree... In this beautifully artistic, incredibly well crafted master-drama Williams portrays a doctor, Christoper Nielsen, who has recently lost his two children in a car accident, on the anniversary of their death he and his wife are planning a special dinner, however on his way back from work at the hospital he stops when he witnesses a car crash in a tunnel, rushing in to assist the potentially harmed driver he is himself hit by a car. When he awakes the world looks and feels "fuzzy" to him and he is guided by the voice of an old friend (played by Cuba Gooding Jr.) who informs him that he died in the accident and he must decide when to move on from this life to the next. But driven by emotion and longing to comfort his widowed and alone wife he sets out in search of his children in the after-life.
I won't spoil anymore, believe me, that is only the foundation of the film, it goes places you wouldn't imagine possible. The visions designed to represent Heaven, Hell and the void between life and death are simply awe inspiring, the way the landscape of it seems like a water-painting truly makes this a movie worth calling Masterpiece! But it's not all about the visuals. The story is tragic, dramatic and powerful. But Robin's deep and heart-felt expression of a man who has "lost everything, but also gained everything" (to quote another of his fine films) is something wondrous. A movie full of sadness but with a shining silver lining all around it, and a must see for sure. Many people say it's not good but I like to call them tasteless morons...
And finally, number one on the list my personal favorite film performance by Robin Williams; but first, a few honorable mentions; (because I had to leave so many off, you don't know how hard it was to choose..!)
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
The Fisher King (1991)
Dead Poet Society (1989)
Bicentennial Man (1999)
One Hour Photo (2002)
And of course, who could forget good old
Genie from Aladdin (1992)
And now... *drum-roll*
#1. Patch Adam (1998)
Based (although not entirely accurately) on the life and work of Dr. Hunter "Patch" Adams. This performance is held to be my personal favorite and it's all to do with Williams, sure it's a well written, splendidly directed piece with some terrific music and incredibly moving themes. But it is Robin that makes this film what it is.
This role really showed, me personally at least, the sheer range of his acting ability, never has a movie made me laugh so hard and every time and weep nearly every time as well, it's almost as old as I am and as many times as I see it it has never once not moved me. The inspiring words he speaks to fellow doctors and medical students at the end, it may be over dramatized, it may never have even happened, but either way it still a great scene.
And an even greater story..! Backed up by honest and regale actors such as the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Monica Potter, Bob Gunton, Michael Jeter and Alan Tudyk. It's a great movie (despite the real Hunter Adams dislike of it due to inaccuracy) it's worth watching at least once.
And there we have it, I dedicate this to a great man, a great actor, entertainer, comedian, a hell of a dancer to! Robin Williams! In the words of the also great Billy Connelly; "I will fart your praises til the end of the Earth..!"
Tell me what your favorite Williams film is in the comments, and if you like this list please share and pass it on and such... Cheers guys.