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Review: Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind (Sundance)

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind (Sundance)
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PLOT: The life of Robin Williams, as told through archival footage and interviews with those who knew him best.

REVIEW: There were sobs heard inside the Park City Holiday Village Cinema when journalists finally got to see the eagerly anticipated Robin Williams doc, ROBIN WILLIAMS: COME INSIDE MY MIND. Produced by HBO Films, this comprehensive documentary by Marina Zenovich takes a humane, insightful look at the life and career of the late legend, whose death is still hard to take three and a half years after the fact.

A warts-and-all doc, no punches are pulled, with enough time spent on his spiraling eighties cocaine addiction (an outtake from “Mork & Mindy” has him asking for a line) and divorces to give us a fully rounded portrait. Flaws and all though, the consensus is that Williams was a pretty swell guy, whose greatest joy in life was just making others happy.

In fact, this makes the case that, for him, making people laugh was a kind of drug, with his ONE HOUR PHOTO director, Mark Romanek, revealing that he deliberately would allow Williams to break the crew up right before a take, because he found that Williams, fresh from getting a laugh, had an otherworldly glow about him that informed the character.

Making people laugh seemed to be his be-all and end-all, with Zenovich relying on a treasure-trove of outtakes, with Williams shown breaking-up everyone from his co-stars on “Mork & Mindy” (with Pam Dawber supplying insightful commentary), to Billy Crystal (who shares the voicemails Williams would often leave him) to even Elmo at one point. A request by an interviewer for Williams to pat down a stray hair is the basis for a comic rant, as is him losing a critic’s choice award, with winner Jack Nicholson (who shared the prize with a bemused looking Daniel Day-Lewis) bringing Williams on-stage and egging him on in a routine that brought the house to its knees. He just had a knack for it.

Which is why, when Zenovich makes it to Williams’s final years, it becomes so heartbreaking. The case is made here that Williams, who was suffering from Parkinson’s, was not in his right frame of mind, but his friends remember him being in a deep funk for a while before his death. Especially sad are clips from his TV show, “The Crazy Ones”, which show Williams out of his element and desperate for laughs, with many suggesting in their offhand way it was a bad vehicle for him to sign-on for.

This fear, that he wouldn’t be able to make people laugh anymore, seems to have played a big part in his depression, and it’s heartbreaking, but thankfully Zenovich doesn’t dwell on the end. Instead, the doc works as a celebration of his life and work. How many guys are kind enough that even their ex-wife is on hand to sing their praises?

The well-chosen clips from his films make his passing especially tough to remember, with teases from AWAKENINGS, MRS. DOUBTFIRE, THE FISHER KING, DEAD POETS’ SOCIETY and more driving home the immensity of his talent. I must admit that ever since he died, watching his movies has been too sad for me, so I tend not to revisit them. This makes me want to go back in and re-watch my favorites as, despite how his story might have ended, COME INSIDE MY MIND shows that most of the things he did were made with as much joy as they gave out.

Source: JoBlo.com

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