Chronicling the life of a one-of-a-kind comedian and actor, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind isn’t the emotionally deep connective experience I was hoping for. As a child growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s, Robin Williams was a supernova of energy and creativity that never seemed to slow down or end. As we’ve come to learn since the days of his passing, he was a lifelong sufferer of depression and addictions, but I feel like the film doesn’t properly explore these demons. The film is a celebration of his life, which I really did enjoy, but I feel like it relies too much on testimonies from his celebrity friends to paint a picture that we’re already privy to. I have friends who knew Robin when he was alive, and I remember telling them that I was absolutely surprised when I heard he had killed himself, and almost all of them told me “Eh, it didn’t really surprise me.” The guy had darkness to him, and I wish the film had explored it a little bit more. In a very, very selfish way, I could have used the closure. The film pins the blame on his developing Parkinson’s disease, but I feel like there’s more to it than that, and in that aspect, it feels like a missed opportunity.
“…intimate moments that paint him as a kind-hearted individual with a lot of love in his heart…”
With that minor criticism out of the way, the film is laugh-out-loud funny. My sides hurt after the screening. There are some golden Mork and Mindy outtakes that had never been seen before, tapes of his stand up at The Comedy Store, Late Show appearances, and his comedy specials that perfectly encapsulate the magic he wielded every time he performed for an audience. The celebrity friend interviews tell personal stories and share intimate moments that paint him as a kind-hearted individual with a lot of love in his heart, and it’s amazing to hear Billy Crystal speak about what Williams was like as a close friend. We only hear from one of his ex-wives, and one of his sons, but they also hold him in high regards and share stories about what he was like as a husband and as a father. None of this is mind-blowing, or particularly enlightening. Director Marina Zenovich was asked what she thinks Williams would have thought of this movie if he’d have been able to see it. Her response was akin to “I think Robin would have felt loved watching everyone speak so fondly of him.” Again, that’s a nice sentiment, but I guess I was wanting more. I really wanted something that went deeper and just a little darker. I feel like the title was a bit misleading in that regard.
“…I guess I was wanting more. I really wanted something that went deeper and just a little darker.”
If you’re a fan of Robin Williams, this is a must-see film. While not as solid or as poignant as other documentaries I’ve seen recently, it’s never boring. It is constantly entertaining, inspirational, full of funny stories, and it at the very least provides a look, if only somewhat superficial one, into the brilliant, lightning-fast mind and kind heart of the great Robin Williams.
Robin Williams: Come Into My Mind (2018) Directed by Marina Zenovich. Starring: Robin Williams, David Letterman, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Pam Dawber.
Robin Williams: Come Into My Mind premiered at The MARC Theatre and played as part of the Doc Premiere Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
9 out of 10