Robin Williams Movies

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Robin Williams movies are often zany affairs, with the talented actor and comic using his improvisational skills to maximum effect. But that’s not always the case, as Williams has also taken on roles featuring damaged men suffering from psychological scars. In either case, audiences have been largely enthusiastic, making Williams a mainstay in cinema and television since the 1970s. The following list details ten of the best Robin Williams films.

Since your local video store might not carry all of them, I suggest Netflix for all your Robin Williams movie needs. They offer no late fees, and their library of movies numbers of 100,000. Click here to become a Netflix member.

Dead Poets Society (1989) – John Keating (Williams) is the latest English teacher to stride the stodgy halls of the Welton Academy prep school. Taking a rather unconventional approach to education, he encourages his students–including Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, and Josh Charles–to rip pages from their textbooks and refer to him as “O Captain! My Captain!” This leads to the resurrection of The Dead Poet’s Society, a secret club dedicated to inspiration and self-expression, and the personal growth of many of the young men under his care. An inspirational film directed by Peter Weir that deals with everything from young love to suicide. If you’ve ever felt like looking at the world in a totally different way, Dead Poets Society might just give you the courage to do so.

The World According to Garp (1982) – Based on the bestseller by James Irving, this quirky classic mixes comedy and drama to tell the life story of writer and father T.S. Garp (Williams). As he grows to adulthood and tries to raise and protect his children, he encounters a number of colorful characters and bizarre events that challenge his notions of the world around him. Glenn Close is wonderful as his feminist icon mother (who impregnated herself by mounting a dying soldier with severe brain trauma and a permanent erection), and John Lithgow gained widespread attention for playing a former football player who’s become a woman.

The Fisher King (1991) – Jeff Bridges rocks a pony-tail in this “Modern Day Tale About the Search for Love, Sanity, Ethel Merman, and the Holy Grail.” Bridges plays Jack Lucas, a shock jock whose on-air comments inadvertently drive a disturbed listener to bust into a Manhattan bar and open fire on the patrons. Riddled with guilt and driven to the verge of suicide, Jack is rescued by a homeless man named Parry (Robin Williams) who’s searching for the legendary Holy Grail. Jack soon learns that Parry witnessed his own wife get gunned down in the bar massacre, and the resulting trauma caused his life to fall apart. As the two begin to help one another recover from their psychological scars, and themes of grace and forgiveness run deep through this imaginative Terry Gilliam film. Also starring Mercedes Ruehl and Amanda Plummer.

The Best of Times (1986) – My favorite of all Robin Williams movies, The Best of Times stars Williams as Jack Dundee, an unhappy banker who constantly dwells on dropping the game-winning pass during a high school football game against his town’s top rival. Deciding to do something about it 13 years later, he convinces the players on both teams to replay the game. A sentimental favorite about recapturing past glory and rectifying mistakes. Kurt Russell co-stars as Reno Hightower, the team’s star quarterback who now owns a failing garage. I must admit that I always get a little misty-eyed during the climax, when Jack has the opportunity to catch the winning pass and find redemption. Also starring Pamela Reed, Holly Palance, Donald Moffat, and M. Emmet Walsh.

Aladdin (1992) – Robin Williams lends his distinctive voice and improvisational comic skills to the animated role of The Genie, a powerful and wisecracking being who assists kind-hearted thief Aladdin in his pursuit of Princess Jasmine. While the studio wanted other actors for the role, the creators of the story had long envisioned Williams in the part. He eventually accepted, ad-libbing most of his lines and a reported 52 characters.

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Good Will Hunting (1997) – Will Hunting (Matt Damon) has a genius-level intellect, a major problem with authority, and the habit of sabotaging any chance he has for success. But that all changes when he meets therapist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams), who happens to come from the same South Boston neighborhood. As the two men push one another, both Will and Sean come to terms with their personal demons. An uplifting tale of reaching your potential and pursuing true love, Good Will Hunting was directed by Gus Van Sant and written by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (for which they won an Oscar).

One Hour Photo (2002) – Seymour “Sy” Parrish is a lonely man, with nothing to go home to besides a television set and a hamster. But when he’s at work as a one-hour photo developer, he lives life vicariously through the pictures of his customers. His favorites are the Yorkin family, a suburban brood who seem to have it all. As Sy’s obsession deepens, he seeks to develop a personal relationship with the Yorkins–one that’s bound to end in tragedy. Hailed by critics for his role, Williams would receive a Saturn Award for Best Actor.

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) – As the Vietnam War rages on, soldiers heading out into the field receive a bit of good cheer from Adrian Cronauer (Robin Williams), a disc jockey for the Armed Forces Radio Service. But when he’s not on the air, Cronauer spends him time courting a Vietnamese girl, befriending her angry brother, and generally pissing off his superior officers (including Bruno Kirby and J.T. Walsh). Williams has plenty of opportunities to show off his rapid-fire talent for comedy, and the supporting cast includes a very young Forest Whitaker. Fans of music from the 1960s will also be in for a treat, as the soundtrack features such memorable hits as “I Get Around,” “I Got You (I Feel Good),” and “Nowhere to Run.” Loosely based on a true story.

Awakenings (1990) – Based on the memoirs of Oliver Sacks, Awakenings deals with the 1969 discovery of a drug called L-Dopa and its success in restoring comatose patients to their old selves. Williams plays a doctor who administers the drug to his patients and helps them cope with life following decades in a coma. Chief among these patients in Leonard Lowe (Robert De Niro), who soon begins to pursue a romance with the daughter (Penelope Ann Miller) of a fellow patient. A heartwarming film that urges viewers to make the most of each day. Look for Vin Diesel in a small role as a hospital orderly.

Moscow on the Hudson (1984) – Williams stars as Vladimir Ivanov, a Russian circus musician who decides to defect during his troupe’s visit to the United States. America is viewed through the eyes of a foreigner, and the results will sometimes make you laugh and sometimes hang your head in shame. Maria Conchita Alonso makes her screen debut as a young Bloomingdale’s clerk who Vladimir first announces his defection to.

That concludes our list of Robin Williams movies. If you’ve already seen them all, I suggest becoming a member of Netflix and checking out such works as The Survivors. They have almost all of his films, as well as pricing plans to meet any budget. We do receive a commission if you sign up, but it doesn’t increase your final price at all. All proceeds, by the way, go right back into the site.

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