HBO Documentary Review-‘Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind’
A comedic force of nature with a mile a minute wit and enough manic energy to transfix you with every word; that was Robin Williams to me. This film dives deep into Robin’s essence, illuminating his past and unfortunately his untimely exit from this world. Marina Zenovich directed this intimate portrait of one of the greatest comedians of our time. The film follows the familiar documentary format, starting with the early life and continuing through, hitting the career highlights throughout. However, what struck me most about Zenovich’s approach was how she presented the material. Robin narrates a lot of the film himself, through audio clips from past interviews or comedy bits. You never see him during these clips but his voice guides you through the film with the help of photos and stand up clips. It’s so powerful to simply hear someone’s voice who is no longer with us.
Never-before-seen footage and interviews with his closest friends and family are interwoven throughout the film, helping the viewer to understand how special this man was and how many lives he impacted with his gift of comedy. His first wife, Valerie Velardi, talked about the Robin she knew before he was in the public eye. Billy Crystal, David Letterman, and Steve Martin talked about the genius comedian who needed comedy like he needed air. His struggles with alcohol and drug addiction that permeated his private life also seemed to seep into his life on the stage. Billy Crystal admitted, “It’s a very powerful thing for a lot of comedians–that laugh is a drug. That acceptance, that thrill, is really hard to replace with anything else.”
I ran the gamut of emotions while watching this film. Clips from his stand up shows made me laugh out loud. Hearing from Billy Crystal about the last time he talked to Robin made me cry. Listening to his son Zac describe his many adventures with his father made me smile. Of course I loved seeing clips from his many classic movies such as Mrs. Doubtfire and Aladdin, but what touched me the most were the personal interviews from those who knew him best.
Robin Williams was part of my childhood. I literally wore out our VHS copy of Aladdin as a kid, replaying the Genie’s scenes over and over. Every time I would be given the unenviable chore of vacuuming the house, I would dance around with the machine like I was Mrs. Doubtfire. When I was feeling down, I would play his stand up special on the history of golf. This man shaped my sense of humor and brought so much joy to my life.
Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind is a captivating look into the life and career of one of the funniest people in the world and a fitting tribute to the man who made so many of us forget our troubles and just laugh.