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Based on the best-selling novel by John Irving, here is the big screen
equivalent of a good read. Robin Williams almost plays it down, but
thoroughly shines in the title role as T.S.Garp in this, his first
proper feature film(well you can hardly include 'Popeye' in that
This is an amazingly rare look at a story that evolves around happiness, sadness, heartbreak, love, and all the other natural emotions that this young,up and coming novelist experiences throughout his far from normal existence that culminates in a dark satire on many comical situations.
Some great moments to be had including a great performance from John Lithgow as the transsexual ex-football player who befriends Garp and his Worldly renowned Women's lib Mother played brilliantly by Glenn Close in her film debut.
You'll laugh... especially at the way Garp was conceived and to find out what his initials T.S. actually stand for. You'll rejoice... at the moment when Garp finds out he is to become a father for the first time. You'll cry...many times...
This movie has got to be one of the most underrated masterpieces of the 1980's, and in many ways sustains a cult following as being one of Robin Williams' first major movie projects.
Don't let this one get away-it doesn't deserve to be missed!
Many people criticize a film based on how close it relates and
over from its novel or written form.
However, knowing up front that this film is NOT the book and dares to actually go in different directions than the book, may allow for a
viewer to be a bit more open about the point of the story and not necessarily the story itself.
I adore the novel. When the film came out I was crass about how much was omitted or changed or embellished. But then, several years later, I watched it again. I was amazed at how many of the unknown actors I'd seen before had become huge Hollywood staples (John Lithgow's amazing performance, Glenn Close, Robin Williams, Hume & Jessica, Mary Beth Hurt, the wonderful Swoosie Kurtz, the godess Amanda Plummer,
and even a cameo from John Irving himself!).
This film is alive with brilliant talent. And let's not forget the music as well. From the opening score of the Beatles, WHEN I'M 64 to the closing sounds of the helicopter, this films sountrack alone is worth drawing attention - simple, honest, pure.
There is magic in this film that makes it a timeless, yet period piece.
If the viewer compares it to the novel, there may be disappointment or disapproval. However, allowed to stand alone, this film will surely endear itself to any viewer's heart.
"The World According to Garp" must have been a challenging film to make
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,
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
into a world wildly different from our own, but not unbeleivably
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.
"The World According To Garp" introduced me to several things dear to me when I saw it as a child: the Beatles (through the opening credits song), Robin Williams (okay, he's not dear to me, but I like his dramatic stuff) and an early understanding of what "bittersweet" meant. To be honest, I have never read John Irving's book. Although I probably will one day, I enjoy the movie too much and right now I don't want my perception of it altered. Beautifully acted, written, and photographed, "Garp" just moves me everytime I watch it. To this day, I haven't seen Robin Williams or Glenn Close play better roles than they do here, and John Lithgow is just a hoot as Roberta. Back to the bittersweet thing, I love the way this film will have you moved to tears one minute and laughing the next, just like real life. Obviously, there are a plethora of movies out there that achieve the same effect, this one just happens to be a personal favorite. Dramatic but never heavyhanded, funny but never silly, "The World According To Garp" is a simply perfect movie experience.
Never before have I viewed a movie with such imagination, heart, and
extensive use of foreshadowing and irony. Watching "Garp" makes one
how both beautiful and morally bankrupt our society is, and that we
reap what we sow. From feminism exploitation to marital infidelity to
gender-alteration, we witness the undoing of the principal characters
through acts of selfishness, greed, and sheer loneliness.
This movie, however, will not appeal to the typical moviegoer, but rather to one who enjoys volatile, politically incorrect subject matter from a psychological perspective. "Garp" toys with your mind, soul, and heart from beginning to end, and its twisted humor remains as gripping as its dreadful tragedies.
Indeed, "Garp" is not for the faint of heart, but ironically, "heart" is what the movie ultimately delivers.
This book is one of my favorites, so I had to see eventually how the
movie stacked up. Not bad, but not perfect either. The movie takes so
long to get going that the end seems rushed. If I hadn't read the book,
I would have had a hard time really understanding the feud with the
Ellen Jamesians or Pooh's hatred of Garp.
Still, this is one of Robin Williams's less annoying performances and a talented cast that at the time not many people had probably heard of. In the end, the movie is complex, at times funny and others sad, and maintains the spirit of the novel.
The book is better, IMO, but this is close enough. "The Cider House Rules" is an even better adaptation--if you like this, you'll love that.
Empty shortening of John Irving's novel strives for profundity courageously but ends up being absurd. It's a quirky, goofy and bittersweet string of sketches, attempting to explain a man's growth from birth to adulthood and how he deals with the vices of lust and fanaticism that surround him. Garp is born to a formidable unmarried mother, Jenny Fields, played by Glenn Close.(The various stages of Garp's childhood are played by three young actors before Robin Williams takes over as Garp reaches adulthood.) The story follows him through childhood at a boys' prep school, where Jenny is the school nurse, through his high school passions-wrestling,writing,and sex-to marriage with his high school sweetheart, children, marital problems and a writing career. Jenny meanwhile has become a famous feminist , espousing an unorthodox cause. The plot details an abundance of comic and tragicomic episodes and outlandish adventures. Williams gives a cherub-faced performance. This script was not fitting for his wildness and anarchy and thus his talent was wasted. He's like an injured bird sputtering out of control. John Lithgow's role as a father like transsexual, imparting wisdom, also doesn't make sense. This movie was able to attract some reasonable attention in 1982, due to the popularity of Robin Williams and his new entry into movies. Williams had recently shed his Mork and Mindy pursuits and focused more on stand-up comedy and movies. Audiences were confused by this film, especially by its arbitrary and inexplicable ending.
I saw this movie again on cable the other night after many years, and forgotten how enjoyable it is. This remains one of Robins Williams' best performances, but the show is stolen by Glen Close's debut performance as his mother, a neurotic feminist nurse who overshadows his writing career with her own. John Lithgow is in his most unusual role (including Buckaroo Banzai) as a transexual friend of Close's. If you are a fan hers and haven't seen this, run out and rent a copy; it's the best investment at BB you'll make in a long time.
Adapting a novel to the screen is fraught with difficulties, and "The World According to Garp" meets those difficulties brilliantly. It is not slavishly faithful to the book as far as details go, but it omits those elements which will not translate well and makes whatever changes are needed to make the story work on film. Robin Williams is a fine Garp, Glenn Close is absolutely perfect as Jenny Garp (her performance was one of the few times I've seen the exact character I'd pictured in my head when I read the book up on the screen), and John Lithgow is funny and touching as transsexual Roberta Muldoon.
The World According to Garp is an unconventional film, to say the
least. Not so much in the sense of how it looks, or how it is acted.
More than anything the film stands out because it is a human drama that
doesn't take a stance or one particular point of view. T. S. Garp is
simply a man trying to live his life amongst all manner of eccentric
characters and unlikely situations. And like life, things happen.
People grow old. There are moments of joy. There are moments of
tragedy. And people die.
Robin Williams plays the title character known by most as simply "Garp". His mother, played with dignified enthusiasm by Glenn Close, has brought him up all by herself. She is a nurse and during WWII, she used the sperm of a dying tail gunner who she happened to be caring for in his final moments. To call this woman a feminist would be a magnificent understatement. Her sexuality is never made that clear to the viewer but is is inferred by some around her that she is in fact a lesbian. Her only relationship with a man that we learn of is the encounter that produced her son, and she spends much of the film condemning the lusty ways of men and boys. As the film goes on, she becomes a famous writer and feminist leader. Garp spends much of his life trying to be a successful writer himself and raising a family, but he never seems to escape his mother's shadow.
The plot simply follows the life of Garp and his family members. A great many things happen to these people over the span of many years. Careers are made, children are born, affairs are had, and the joys of life are often shattered by terrible tragedies. Williams is decent enough as Garp. He maybe acts a bit too zany in the light-hearted scenes, but he nails the more dramatic ones pretty well. That's the amazing thing about Robin Williams. The guy is an absolute nut most of the time he's in front of a camera, but when he bears down and plays something serious, it's stunning to see how great his range can be. He is an undervalued actor. Glenn Close steals this film though in terms of acting. She owns every scene she's in much like how her domineering character towers over that of her son's. The supporting cast is more than adequate with John Lithgow getting major props for his daring turn as a transsexual with a heart of gold. The film seems to take its share of jabs at radical feminism as it depicts a sect of women knows as the Ellen Jamsians. These women cut out their own tongues to protest the similar fate of a rape victim. And boy do these ladies HATE men. An act of violence in one of the final scenes shows how fanatical they can be. (as if cutting out their tongues wasn't bad enough!) Each person who views this film will probably see something different in it, and those are my favorite kinds of films. There are moments of definite humor, surprise, hope, and tragedy. You will not be bored. The film is based on a popular novel by John Irving and is worth 9 of 10 stars.
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