The 10 Best Robin Williams Movies
We celebrate Robin Williams, the guy who gave us such joy.
As I said in my brief epitaph to that grandstanding chameleon we all admired and loved, we each have our Robin Williams favourites.
There’s a lot to choose from -- from Patch Adams to Jumanji to Insomnia to Popeye -- and while those movies didn’t make my list, they should be celebrated on yours. Because when an entertainer leaves behind such a rollicking legacy, it belongs to every single one of us.
Instead of going on about what each of these roles meant, I present instead a great quote from the films -- a line you will hopefully ‘hear’ in Robin’s own, inimitable style, as you read and revisit the guy who gave us such joy.
10. One Hour Photo
A dark thriller where Williams plays an obsessive photo technician. In this line, his character Sy talks about how little we treasure what really matters.
Sy Parrish: 'Most people don't take snapshots of the little things. The used Band-Aid, the guy at the gas station, the wasp on the Jell-O. But these are the things that make up the true picture of our lives. People don't take pictures of these things.'
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Image: Robin Williams in One Hour Photo
9. The World According To Garp
In George Roy Hill’s adaptation of John Irving’s classic novel, Williams, as the hero Garp, plays a wrestling enthusiast quick on the quip. Here, he tells his son something we all should know.
Walt: “Daddy, what’s gradual school?”
Walt: “Gradual school. Mommy says she teaches at gradual school.”
Garp: “Oh Gradual school is where you go to school and you gradually find out you don't want to go to school anymore.”
Image: Robin Williams and Glenn Close in The World According To Garp
8. The Birdcage
This Mike Nichols comedy is all about wisecracks flying between two lovers Armand, played by Williams, and Albert, played by Nathan Lane.
Albert: “Oh God, I pierced the toast!”
Armand: “So what? The important thing to remember is not to go to pieces when that happens. You have to react like a man, calmly. You have to say to yourself, "Albert, you pierced the toast, so what? It's not the end of your life.”
Image: Robin Williams in The Birdcage
7. Mrs Doubtfire
In this Chris Columbus film made unforgettable by Williams, he dresses up as a woman to try and win back his estranged wife. In this scene, he pelts her suitor Stu (Pierce Brosnan) with a fruit and tries to blame it on a waiter.
Mrs Doubtfire: “Oh, sir. I saw it! Some angry member of the kitchen staff, did you not tip them? Oh, the terrorists! They ran that way. It was a run-by fruiting. I'll get them, sir. Don't worry.”
Image: Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire
6. Deconstructing Harry
Robin Williams’ range really comes to the fore in this bittersweet Woody Allen film where he, playing the increasingly blurry Harry Block, carries off the director’s trademark humour in his own style.
Doris: “You have no values. With you it’s all nihilism, cynicism, sarcasm and orgasm.”
Harry Block: “Hey! In France I could run for office with that slogan, and win!”
Image: Woody Allen and Robin Williams in Deconstructing Harry
5. Good Morning, Vietnam
Inspiring many a radio jockey, this Barry Levinson film featured Williams as Adrian Cronauer, pouring his personality out over the waves all in the name of morale.
Adrian Cronauer: “Good morning, Vietnam! Hey, this is not a test. This is rock and roll. Time to rock it from the delta to the DMZ!
Is that me, or does that sound like an Elvis Presley movie? Viva Da Nang. Oh, viva, Da Nang. Da Nang me, Da Nang me. Why don't they get a rope and hang me?
Hey, is it a little too early for being that loud? Hey, too late. It's 0600 What's the "0" stand for? Oh, my God, it's early.
Speaking of early, how about that Cro-Magnon, Marty Dreiwitz? Thank you, Marty, for "silky-smooth sound." Make me sound like Peggy Lee. Freddy and the Dreamers! Wrong speed. We've got it on the wrong speed. For those of you recovering from a hangover, that's gonna sound just right. Let's put her right back down.”
Image: Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam
4. The Fisher King
Terry Gilliam’s odd but lovely dramedy sees Williams as Parry, who, as a homeless man, seems to have his priorities pretty straight.
Parry: “There's three things in this world that you need: Respect for all kinds of life, a nice bowel movement on a regular basis, and a navy blazer.”
Image: Robin Williams in The Fisher King
Williams, playing the Genie, is the primary reason this Disney film is one of the all-time animated classics. Unfettered and out on a limb, the film sees Robin at his exuberant best.
Genie: “But oh, to be free. Not to have to go "Poof! What do you need, "Poof! What do you need, Poof! What do you need?". To be my own master. Such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in all the world. But what am I talking about? Let's get real here, that's never gonna happen. Genie, wake up and smell the hummus.”
Image: A scene from Aladdin
2. Good Will Hunting
Williams plays a therapist in Gus Van Sant’s drama, and, as evidenced by this long but terrific passage, shows off much wisdom very convincingly.
Sean: “If I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you'd probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can't tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy.”
“You're a tough kid. And I'd ask you about war, you'd probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, "once more unto the breach dear friends." But you've never been near one. You've never held your best friend's head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help.
I'd ask you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet. But you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn't know what it's like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn't know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms "visiting hours" don't apply to you.”
“You don't know about real loss, 'cause it only occurs when you've loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you... I don't see an intelligent, confident man... I see a cocky, scared shitless kid.
But you're a genius Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my f**king life apart.”
Image: Matt Damon and Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting
1. Dead Poets Society
And finally the Peter Weir film where the actor, as John Keating, inspired so many of us, the film that, today, makes us want to stand atop chairs to wave goodbye to Robin Williams.
John Keating: “We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life.
But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”
Image: Robin Williams (centre) in Dead Poets Society