More than just the shock of a living legend passing away; it had to be a suicide by a man who seemed so full of humor and life on the outside but internally was slowly dying of pain, cold and loneliness. We lose celebrities and movie stars on a weekly basis due to disease, accidents and the occasional homicide or drug overdose but suicides are thankfully rare. I don’t think anyone knew this would happen to funny man Robin Williams. I wish I could say I did then but looking back now, I think could kind of see his misery. Lately he always seemed like a crying in the inside kind of clown.
I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge Robin Williams fan. I liked him don’t get me wrong and always wanted to like him and his movies more but they were always lacking in my opinion. Some were downright awful like Toys, Jack and Bicentennial Man. Some were totally unforgettable like Jakob The Liar and Cadillac Man. I think the problem was Robin Williams was better at dramas than he was at comedies. Sure his stand-up was good and he was naturally a very funny comedian with a tremendous gift of improvisation and impersonations but his dramas were always better than his comedies. He should’ve made more movies with other funny people like Steve Martin, John Candy and other SNL alumni. The closest movie he did with an all-star comedy cast was the not-so-funny Club Paradise. That should’ve been his Ghostbusters or Caddyshack but instead its mostly forgotten. And in movies where he was really funny like Good Morning, Vietnam and The Fisher King, they are essentially dramedies. I can compare him to Jim Carrey who was really wacky and played goof-balls in his earlier movies but when he branched out to dramas he wasn’t taken seriously and ultimately failed as a serious actor. On the other hand Williams was naturally a great dramatic actor and was nominated several times and even rightfully won for Good Will Hunting. His dramas without the usual Williams crazy antics were always better than his strict comedies and family films. Later on, he made too many poorly received family films (Jack, Flubber, Bicentennial Man) that when he went back to serious roles he went too far with Insomnia and One Hour Photo where he played either a murderer or a sociopath that it took audiences by surprise and those films, too, didn’t do so well and are regrettably forgotten. I think if Eddie Murphy, who also went from comedies to family films, went back to something like an R-rated comedy it would take audiences by surprise. Imagine if Murphy played a serial killer or sadistic drug kingpin in his next movie, how would you feel? Either you would be repulsed or you would be like “Finally! Murphy’s back to what he’s really great at!” And that’s how I feel about Robin Williams.
I just wish Williams made better comedies. Bill Murray has no problem making goofy comedies, smart comedies and the occasional drama too. And all his films seem to be decent. I remember when Jack came out. It stars Williams as a kid who ages too fast so he looks 45 when he’s really 10. It was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and still no one gave a hot shit. I was working at a movie theatre when this came out and it was gone in about two weeks and most showings were close to empty. It was hardly funny for starring a gifted comedian like Williams. It was actually a straight up drama and it failed miserably because it tried to gel the two tones but failed. I didn’t see What Dreams May Come but all my friends who have seen it had nothing good to say about it. I also skipped Patch Adams basically because it looked more sugary than a pixie stick. To me, Williams tried too hard to please too many people and that’s why his career is so erratic and eccentric with too many duds and forgotten films.
It feels like I’m beating the man down and speaking ill of the dead but what my main point here is that he should’ve had a better career. Not wasting his talents on crap TV like The Crazy Ones. When Harold Ramis died, it actually affected me because I feel Ramis was genuinely sure of the type of writer, director and actor he wanted to be and we all love his movies. When I heard Williams died I was kinda “Oh…that’s too bad!” and it took me a few articles over the course of the day that showcased his films that I started to realize how much better those films should’ve been and better remembered. I never quote a Williams movie. I regrettably don’t look too fondly on an old Williams movie to be honest except maybe Popeye which I always loved since I can remember. And most people don’t like Popeye but love his other movies like Mrs. Doubtfire and Patch Adams so maybe I’m the wrong person to eulogize the poor man. But I’m just being as honest as I can.
I may be in the minority about Williams. Looking at most of the tweets and Facebook posts, people adored him. Like I said, I wanted to like him more as an actor I really did. I never shied away from his movies because of him; but for other reasons. He’s a tremendously gifted dramatic actor but his comedies needed more to be truly great comedies. On the flip side, some of his dramas where he wasn’t funny are fantastic. I don’t know why he was so depressed that he took his own life. It’s a crying shame that his mental illness overcame him. It’s odd because from what I’ve read he was always there to make a friend feel better, like the time he made Christopher Reeve laugh in the hospital after his paralyzing fall but he had no one to make him feel better? How could such a mental illness be that shrouded?
I think everyone will remember Robin for how funny he was and I think in a way that is appropriate. However, I will remember him as the gifted dramatic actor who occasionally was funny. And after this tragedy, that seems more appropriate to me. I am sorry to see him go.