File Under 2018 #94: Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind


What it's about: Robin Williams was one of the most beloved comedic actors of his generation. His career was full of ups and downs, personal highs and tragedies. From his early days as a unique stand-up comedian who relied on characters and energy more than punchlines through his breakout on TV's Mork and Mindy, his early struggles breaking into Hollywood and his success in childhood classics and dramatic work, his life is fully explored through his own words and with the help of the friends and family that knew the real Robin Williams the best.

Unorganized thoughts:

  • Marina Zenovich's Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind is a standard but solid biographical documentary of an artistic legend. If you love Robin Williams as many do, you'll greatly enjoy the wall-to-wall footage of him on stage, behind the scenes, and in the entertainments that you love. If you are indifferent to or largely unfamiliar with Robin Williams, you'll learn a bit about him and understand why so many love him.

  • Though the lows are fully explored, Come Inside My Mind's goal isn't to challenge or shake up anyone's perception of him. This is a fully loving, intimate journey through his personality.

  • Even before the title flashes on screen there is footage from all the following sources: Inside the Actor's Studio, an appearance on David Letterman, stand-up from what appears to be a different late night talk show, Awakenings, and Whose Line Is It Anyway?. The breadth of his appearances on television and in films really drives home just how ubiquitous he was. And that's ignoring all the headlining credits one would first mention.

  • About 13 minutes into Come Inside My Mind and the only voice-over is from Robin Williams from archival footage or interviews he conducted later in his life. It is actually a little disappointing when it shifts to a college friend talking about Robin. Obviously, others' perspectives are so important to building the picture of his life but I began hoping that the film tried for that extra degree of narrative difficulty.

  • Robin's first wife is a major talking head contributor throughout the film, especially in the period where the main narrative was how many drugs he was doing and how many women he was sleeping with. Interestingly, she doesn't have a bad thing to say about him, even during this period. In a way, that's basically the tone of Come Inside My Mind.

  • Even when we see Williams in an angry or sad rant, [playfully] antagonizing his co-workers, talking about serious issues, it is always delivered with a positive energy.

  • Come Inside My Mind is made up of more out-takes than actual footage from his work. We've all seen the films and television he's done so the off-the-cut bits improvising as Genie or using colorful language as Mork is much more interesting. It is these moments that capture Robin's personality and what the film wants to celebrate.

  • There is more time spent on his Critics' Choice loss for One Hour Photo [in a three-man field where Daniel Day-Lewis and Jack Nicholson tied for the win] than anything involving the Academy Award he won. Watching Williams being brought on the stage by Nicholson and going on a vulgar impersonation of his victor is again more indicative of what Come Inside My Mind chooses to explore.

  • This marks the second time this year [unofficial count] where Koko the gorilla meets an entertainment icon. Big year for Koko.