No one would argue that Robin Williams is a legend. His unmatched personality, comedic delivery, and presence will never be forgotten. As most people can probably say, I grew up as a fan of Robin Williams--I was not obsessed with him, but his work was always something I gravitated to for consistent laughter and comfort. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) is still one of my go-to feel good films. I watch it when I need a pick me up, because I know it will always make me laugh and feel loved. I will never forget my mom telling me (as an adult) how she remembers taking me to see Aladdin (1992) in the theater and she laughed uncontrollably at Robin as the Genie; although I was too young to remember that initial experience, Aladdin continues to be a favorite memory. I could go on and on about why I adore Robin Williams and all the reasons why his films and characters are funny, endearing, and memorable. Robin’s Wish is not that--it is devastating and heartbreaking.
This documentary is marketed as an intimate look into Robin’s final days before his passing, and that should not be taken lightly. This is not a documentary that a fan of Robin Williams’ should watch and expect to chuckle or relive his glory days. This is a documentary for people who want to learn about this neurological disease through the lens of a beloved legend. I felt like I was watching an innocent fun-loving friend spiral into the scary unknown with my hands completely tied. There is nothing else to do other than to just watch it happen.
The story is well done, undoubtedly, and told through people who were close to Robin in his final moments: his wife, neighbors, friends, peers. The guilt and fear exudes from their words and expressions about him and the memories of what the end of his life looked like in reality and not what you consumed from the media. Shawn Levy, the director for Night at the Museum (2014) which was one of Robin’s final projects, recalls how he knew Robin was not himself, but he was silent about the concerns he witnessed on set. Some of the most emotional moments of the documentary happen when we get to see Robin in a way that is probably unbeknownst to many, and if not for his untimely death, would have never been shared otherwise. Robin met many times with soldiers overseas for entertainment and encouragement, but he also met with wounded soldiers and spent private time with them discussing their shared fears and insecurities. Those moments I watched through teary eyes for many reasons, but mostly because of seeing someone like Robin Williams break down and be incredibly human was tough to watch, now knowing how much he was internally struggling. This story is important, but should not be watched without a box of tissues and someone to hug afterwards.