Based on the John Irving novel, this film chronicles the life of T S Garp, and his mother, Jenny. Whilst Garp sees himself as a "serious" writer, Jenny writes a feminist manifesto at an opportune time, and finds herself as a magnet for all manner of distressed women. Written by
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After young Garp tangles with Bonkers the dog, Jenny complains to Stew Percy that Bonkers bit Garp's earlobe off; and Garp's right ear is bandaged. At no time in the remainder of the film do we see any evidence of Garp's ear having been damaged. See more »
"The World According to Garp" must have been a challenging film to make for all involved. The film spans nearly forty years and requires the actors to not only age four decades, but to emote four decades of their respective character's development. All involved do this astonishingly well, especially Robin Williams in his first dramatic part, and Glenn Close, who plays his mother despite actually being younger than Williams. Even the film itself grows in character - it starts in our own world, and then rapidly snowballs into a world wildly different from our own, but not unbeleivably different.
Close plays Jenny Fields, a woman who grows from being oddly independent to becoming the symbol of ultra-feminism over the next 30 years. She sets a world-changing series of events into place with the unorthodox conception of her son whom she names T.S. Garp after his father, Technical Sergeant Garp. The boy (known simply as Garp) is brought up in the fifties and sixties as the only child of a single mother - unheard of in those days. This unique childhood gives Garp an unusual view of the world, which inspires him ot become a writer. As the young Garp struggles to become a writer, his mother (inspired by his writings and her own warped world view) also decides to be a writer. Her first and only book,"Sexual Suspect", is a radical feminist manifesto and becomes an instant bestseller in the already unstable and turbulent 1960s...as if Garp's life wasn't wierd enough.
It gets wierder still as Garp courts and married his college sweetheart, becomes an author in his own right, and raises a family. Garp's own family life is quite normal with it's rewards, fights, wonders and tragedies, but it is played against the backdrop of a world wildly twisted in it's values by his own mother. Meanwhile, his mother has created a home for women who are unable to integrate into society - probably as a result of having read "Sexual Suspect". At the home, Garp makes several new aquaintences. Among them are the twisted Ellen Jamesians, women who have cut off their tongues in protest of the rape of a young girl named Ellen James - and Roberta Muldoon, a transsexual former tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles struggling with "being a hopeless romantic in a male chauvanist world".
If there is a message in "The World According to Garp", it might be that the world is a strange and wonderful place filled with both horror and delight. Garp's world makes you look at your own and realize how wierd it really is, and makes you appreciate the delights of your world a little more.
Glenn Close, Robin Williams, and Mary Beth Hurt (who plays Mrs. T.S. Garp) are all outstanding in their ability to create likeable characters, and to mellow and age them convincingly. The other standout role is John Lithgow, who plays Roberta Muldoon with touching hilarity and beleivability. There are no bad performances in this film: it is populated with characters that are as solid and quirky as those in real life. The only flaws in the film are that the second act has some draggy slow parts, and there is one gag involving an airplane that tries a little hard for laughs.
In an alternate universe, "The World According to Garp" might be a biographical documentary. It creates a world that is somehow familiar and completely distorted at the same time.
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