The Little Spark of Madness: A Robin Williams Tribute

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I first heard the news late Monday night after work. You ever see alerts that are so shocking you first don’t believe them? You think it’s got to be some over-the-top joke. Then I read the article then the other article linked to that one then another and you realize it’s very real. When you have a horrible moment and realize that it’s not a joke can you think of the very first thing that comes to mind?

For me in this moment the first thing was: Mrs. Doubtfire

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I know it’s stupid but it’s true. Watching Mrs. Doubtfire as a child was the very first time (as far as I can remember) I was introduced to Robin Williams. And I remember seeing so much of him as I continued to grow.
In this fun family film released in the fall of 1993 we have Robin Williams playing Daniel Hillard. Daniel is just coming out of a divorce and after loosing the right’s to his children he disguises himself as the Scottish nanny Mrs. Iphegenia Doubtfire to be able to spend more time with his kids. Robin Williams has a lot of room be funny dressed in drag as an old nanny. He gives us the laughs we need but at times looses himself in the nanny persona. That’s when the heart of the movie comes to play. P.S. there had also been talk of a Mrs. Doubtfire 2 but of course sadly the plans for that will go back on the shelf to gather dust.

 

I remember his goofiness in the remake of Flubber.

Flubber

 

I wanted my own Flubber so bad as a child!
Here we have Robin Williams playing professor Philap Brainard a goofy scientist who is trying to create a new form of energy and in stead creates Flubber a stretchy, bouncy, gooey, green life form. The film was based on another Disney film from 1961 called ‘The Absent Minded professor’ wow movie titles were so much more simpler back then weren’t they? This fun family Sci-Fi movie came out in 1997. You really have to give Robert Williams credit here. It’s gotta be tough sharing the spotlight when your co-star is Flubber. However the late comedian held his own and had both children and adults laughing to this precious movie gem.

The excitement of the game Jumanji.

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This one never gets old. I can watch it again and again and again! Jumanji was an instant classic that was also made into a cartoon spin-off.
Robin Williams plays Alan  Parrish who after finding a strange board game and being sucked into it is released 26 years later by a new generation of players. But other creatures have escaped from the game as well and he finds he’ll have to finish the game he started to put them back in again. This roller coaster ride of a film was released in the winter of 1995, hey if you move fast enough you can catch it on Netflix instant stream! It’s Robin Williams vs. CGI animals! And again the actor holds his own playing the reluctant hero of the film. However we still get his funny antics throughout the movie. Remember the scene where he first gets out the game? Yeah! Classic.

I remember the hope he gave in Jack.

Jack

The kind of movie that makes you smile through tears. It’s a good thing.
This movie is about Jack Powell a young boy with a rare aging disorder that causes him to grow 4 times faster than usual. The story starts when Jack, played by Robin Williams of course, is ten but looks the age of forty. He starts the fifth grade for the first time and tries to fit in with the other kids his own age. You can see where the problem is there. Jack was released in the early fall of 1996.  A very moving story. Robin Williams was just fantastic as a man with the mind of a child because that’s just him all the way. But he brought depth to Jack’s character who was just beginning to learn that he was different and that his time was running short with his age progression. I dare you to watch this and not cry. I double dare you.

The magic he brought to Aladdin as the Genie.

Aladdin

Show of hands who sits to the movie Aladdin anxious and excited for the Genie’s cue to come in?
In the forever loved Aladdin movie we have our hero Aladdin who is a common street urchin and petty thief. He falls in love with the Princess Jasmine but because of the law stating she can only marry a Prince he believes himself unworthy of her. Unfortunate (or maybe fortunate) circumstances lands him in the cave of wonders where he finds a mystical lamp which, once rubbed the Genie voiced righteously so by Robin Williams, emerges to grant the owner of the lamp three wishes. Aladdin’s luck finally comes in!  Released in 1992, Robin brings so much zany energy to the Genie’s character you can almost see Robin Williams acting it out himself! The voiceover is the perfect match for Genie and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the role. Who else but Robin Williams to stuff chaos and Disney magic into a character creating an instant classic?

I was thrilled when he learned to fly again in Hook.

Hook

 

Seriously who better to play a grown up Peter Pan?
Peter Pan, played by Robin Williams as an adult, has left Neverland after falling in love with Wendy’s granddaughter. As an adult he’s changed his name to Peter Banning and become a cut-throat lawyer. He’s forgotten that he was once the boy who refused to grow up and hardly has time for his own children. But when Hook kidnaps his children he must return to Neverland, remember his past and, with a little help from Tink, figure out how to fly again. Hook was brought to screen in the winter of 1991. Uhg it was so awful watching Robin Williams as the straight-laced no-nonsense lawyer, not that he wasn’t good it was just that he was too convincing. Didn’t you just smile when he finally accepted himself as Peter Pan? We just wanted Robin to fly!

And he showed the unlimited beauty in life after death in What Dreams May Come.

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I’m sorry but hands down I fell in love with Robin Williams as an actor after this movie. This is my all time favorite film from him.
In this tragic but beautiful story of life and death Robin Williams plays Chris Nielsen a man who falls in loves gets married and raises a happy family, however his marriage begins to crumble after the death of his children. Chris’s own time is cut short by a fatal car accident which brings him to heaven and the reunion of his two children. However when his wife takes her own life and is banished to suffer for eternity Chris vows to bring her back to heaven with him. Even if that means entering the gates of Hell itself. This fantastic movie gem was released in the fall of 1998.  One of his greatest performances, Robin Williams brings so much emotion into Chris’s tragic life this role truly defines him as a class A actor. Not to mention the imagery and affection that is given by this film…it’s a wonderful masterpiece and he was brilliant in it. Another film where I always cry at the end. Dang it.

Robin Williams first came to the screen in the Mork and Mindy TV series which was a spin-off of Happy Days. From that start back in the late 70’s till now you can find a string of the late actors works from stand up to television from short sketches to the Big Screen. I haven’t even scratched the surface with all of Robin’s best performances as I’m sure you have a few favorites of your own that aren’t on the list. That’s good. Because it’s insulting to put down one’s entire achievement and life story in one little entry. Not only that its near impossible. It doesn’t matter how you remember someone that’s gone, just that you remember.

We all know the story of his death, but I don’t want to dwell on that. We’ll remember the man we grew up with on-screen for making us laugh, cry, hope and dream. All the while holding onto that spark of madness he passed along.

Robin Williams ~ ‘You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.’