Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 137

his memories were erased when he was adopted.  He returns to Neverland as Peter Pan, regains his youthful spirit, and after a period of soul-searching and a confrontation with Captain Hook, reclaims his children and returns to his mother’s home. When Wendy suggests that Peter’s adventures are over, Peter expresses his enthusiasm for life.  “To live,” he says, “would be an awfully big adventure.”  Similarly, Williams’s Genie role in the animated feature Aladdin (1992) has his character experiencing “a whole new world,” this time after popping out of a magic lamp.  Once again, Williams creates a character with a frenetic style and a good heart. The Genie’s signature song, “A Friend Like Me,” underscores the importance of emotion and connection.   Even in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), for which Williams won a Golden Globe Award for best actor, he enters a new world of femininity when he poses as a nanny to be closer to his children after his wife asks for a divorce.  “My first day as a woman,” Mrs. Doubtfire quips, “and I get hot flashes.”  Finally, in Jumanji (1995), Williams’ Alan Parrish is trapped in a jungle-themed board game for twenty-six years and finally escapes when children find the long-forgotten game in their attic and begin playing.  Now thirty-eight, Alan confronts his new world as an adult and navigates relationships. However, it is in Good Will Hunting (1997), where Williams finds perhaps his most important and emotional role, harkening back to his character in Dead Poets Society.  Here he plays the role of therapist Sean Maguire, who treats twenty-year old blue-collar laborer Will Hunting (Matt Damon), an unrecognized mathematical genius, and helps him to re-evaluate his life.  Both Sean Maguire and Will Hunting suffered abuse as children and misfortune later in life but through disclosure and trust in one another find ways to move forward.  Following a poignant scene in which Maguire repeats nine times to Hunting that the abuse was not his fault and the men weep, the script describes a quintessential image:   “Two lonely souls being father and son together” (Dougan 231).  Showcasing Williams’s dramatic talents, Good Will Hunting proved to be a critical and popular success and earned Williams his first and only Academy Award, despite three previous nominations, for best supporting actor.   Once again, Williams created a character who discovers deep feelings. In his best performances, Robin Williams merged manic energy with heartfelt emotion.   However, if there is one criticism of Williams’s movie career, it is that his work became too sentimental, a characteristic hinted at as early as Mork and Mindy.  Movies such as Jack (1996), in which he plays a boy whose rare disease makes him age four times faster than normal, and Patch Adams (1998), in which he plays a clownish doctor who shakes up the hospital and lives of his young patients with his 137