Regarded as one of the most creative and outlandish actors of all time, Robin Williams has become a memorable Hollywood star. As such, millions of fans have flocked to his movies throughout the years when in need of a laugh. His more popular movies such as Mrs. Doubtfire and Aladdin have long entertained and brought joy to audiences for decades. However, some of his most critically acclaimed Robin Williams’ roles have come in movies that weren’t financial blockbusters. The beloved actor sadly passed away in 2014, but his performances have forever left their mark on cinematic history. Let’s take a look at five underrated Robin Williams movies you need to watch.
5. Bicentennial Man (1999)
Based on the 1976 novelette by Isaac Asimov, Chris Columbus’ Bicentennial Man explores various significant topics. Robin Williams plays Andrew Marti, an NDR robot who works for the Martin family. Despite his identity as an android servant, Andrew desperately wishes to become a human. Throughout his journey, Andrew experiences struggles with human emotions of love and freedom. Andrew also begins to exhibit signs of maturity and the ambition to be a real man. Amidst his hopeful determination, he falls in love with a member of the Martin family.
Critically, the film was bashed. However, Robin Williams helps to convey a strong message of the desire to experience human emotions and problems. His performance helps the audience to empathize with Andrew and his larger-than-life dreams. As such, Robin Williams’ role in Bicentennial Man is one of the most underrated of his career.
4. The World According to Garp (1982)
While the majority of his career included comedic roles, Robin Williams first displayed dramatic nature in George Roy Hill’s The World According to Garp. The plot follows T.S. Garp (Robin Williams), an aspiring fiction writer born to his unmarried mother, a WWII nurse. Garp eventually becomes a successful fiction writer, while his mother also writes her own book. The book focuses on women’s liberation and feminist power, which earns her popularity among the community. Garp manages to maintain his own success and marries a woman, though her infidelity sends him into a blind rage.
Robin Williams shines as a beacon of light for the film’s overall critical praise. John Lithgow and Glenn Close also star in the film, but it’s Williams’ Garp that serves as the captain of the ship, keeping the story’s multiple topics credible. In a film full of unrationalized decisions and right versus wrong, The World According to Garp serves as one of Robin Williams’ most underrated movies.
3. What Dreams May Come (1998)
Even though What Dreams May Come won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, Robin Williams’ role in the film is often overlooked. With an emotional story and deeply rooted melancholy, What Dreams May Come allows Robin Williams to shine in dramatic light. The story follows Chris Nielsen (Robin Williams), a pediatrician who died in a car accident just a few years after his children suffered the same fate. However, Chris does not realize that he is dead. When Chris awakens in Heaven, he learns his wife, Annie, has committed suicide and is now in Hell.
Robin Williams delivered an unforgettable performance of sorrow and loss. Williams’ character must face the undeniable truth while determined to save his wife from remaining in Hell. While the film is worth watching solely based on its incredible visual effects and beautiful cinematography, Williams’ ability to capture the audience’s attention and invoke empathy keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. With a heartwarming ending, What Dreams May Come establishes itself as an underrated gem.
2. One Hour Photo (2002)
Robin Williams’ unsettling role as Sy Parrish is arguably one of the best performances of his illustrious career. Mark Romanek’s One Hour Photo follows Seymour “Sy” Parrish, a SavMart photo technician living a life of detachment and isolation. Taking pride in his work, Sy dedicates his time and energy to providing photos for others. Over time, Sy becomes obsessed with the Yorkin family, often making copies of their family photos and keeping them for himself. As Parrish uncovers the hidden truth about the Yorkin’s patriarch, his antics become more deadly.
Focusing on an individual built on disturbance and trauma, One Hour Photo paints a picture of just how far one man would go. Including elements of abuse and obsession, the film highlights a range of psychological darkness. Near the film’s ending, viewers are given a small glimpse into Sy’s dark past, revealing his true purpose for working with photos. Interestingly, Sy emerges from the shadows not as an obsessed monster, and instead as a traumatized victim. Williams’ unnerving portrayal proved to be a driving force for the film’s moderate success. Williams received tremendous praise for his performance, with many applauding him for branching out of his usual comedic role.
1. World’s Greatest Dad (2009)
Out of all of Robin Williams’ underrated classic performances, his role in Bobcat Goldthwait’s World’s Greatest Dad has often been noted as one of his very best. The plot follows Lance Clayton (Robin Williams), a single father and high school English teacher who aspires to become a successful writer. Lance lives with his son, Kyle (Daryl Sabara), an obnoxious, sex-obsessed churl who infuriates most people around him. After Kyle suddenly dies from a freak accident, Lance stages his death as a suicide and writes a faux journal in Kyle’s name. With the entire school believing Kyle wrote it, Lance reaps the attention and benefits, secretly becoming a “famous writer” in the process.
Despite being released in a video on demand format along with a limited theatrical release, the film was met with favorable reviews. World’s Greatest Dad takes a brave stance on suicide and its profound effect. The film consistently bounces between elements of dark humor and dramatic sadness, all while allowing Williams to deliver a captivating performance. The film perfectly displays the impact of Kyle’s death on Lance, though proves troublesome when he almost begins to bask in his demise. Even so, Williams’ portrayal is highly favored and helps to bring the film’s elements to life, making it Robin Williams’ most underrated movie.