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I must say I'm surprised by all the strongly unfavourable reviews. I
saw this one back in 1984 when it was first released and I loved it for
the very reasons that some people here seem to hate it. It was
deliciously weird. Our heroes are in an incestuous relationship, and
the movie is uncritical of this. That gets the brain working from the
start. Then you discover the other bizarre characters and their
relationships and the movie becomes, to me at least, extremely lovable.
Admittedly, Rob Lowe's acting isn't up to much, and that's glaringly obvious here, but it doesn't destroy the film, and there's great work, as usual, from Jodie Foster to compensate.
Basically, this is a light-hearted, feel-good film that I would expect to have mass appeal. To top it off, it achieves this effect without being overly sentimental. That's rare. If you haven't seen it, give it a whirl. If you don't like it, keep on passing open windows.
I just purchased this film on a Norwegian home video, and the cover bragged
about the ratings it had gotten in Norwegian newspapers (5 out of 6 in the
major papers). I thought this had to be a good movie, so I checked it out on
this site, and was surprised to see how bad the reviews were
Now I've seen the film and I must say that I agree much more with the Norwegian reviewers than the users of this site (except those who gave it a good review). This movie is brilliant. Almost as good as The World According To Garp, which happens to be one of my favourite movies of all time.
The excellence of these films is that they're so focused on the main characters in the movie, that you really start to know them, and care about them. This is something you don't see in many movies. Here you follow the whole family from they're young 'till they're old, and you start understanding how they've become the way they are, and why they act the way they do.
As Garp, this movie is also very much focused on sex and love, and in the most bizarre ways possible. But so what? In the world there are many types of persons, why should a book or a movie just focus on the "normal" ones? The fact that the persons in these films are not "normal" makes them more acceptable and believable to the average viewer. "Normal" in movies normally means perfect, and very few persons are perfect... In Garp and New Hampshire the characters are not perfect, and that's what makes the films perfect...
The cast also does an excellent work with their characters, everybody is believable. And the director has done an excellent job pacing the film in a way that it doesn't move too fast, and it never bores you by going to slow.
All in all: an excellent movie that I'd recommend to anyone who hasn't yet been completely brainwashed by Hollywood's image of perfectionism. Almost as good as Garp. If you liked Garp, you'll love this one too. And vice versa. I give this film an 8 (almost 9) out of 10.
As my father used to say: if all say something is great, you still may not like it. If all are booing, we must be missing something.. When a work gets reactions so diverse as Hotel New Hampshire, it is truly not to be missed ! Indeed, this film is elusive; funny and sad and hilarious and heart-wrenching. Humour without a tear is nothing. This film, after an even better book, is fantastic. Form an opinion. See this film !!
Slowly I realize what Homer Simpson meant when he said: "I wanna be John
Irving!" No, seriously, that was just supposed to be a joke. The ONLY movie
I know "The Hotel New Hampshire" can be compared to is "The World According
to Garp" - as this one based on a novel by John Irving.
Sometimes this movie makes you think that it's a mediocre and senseless one. That it's gross and abnormal. But that is John Irving! Like in "Garp", sex plays a central role in "New Hampshire" - and it's turned upside down. In "Garp", Glenn Close *raped* a dying man. In this movie, Jodie Foster is raped, she and her brother (Rob Lowe) want to make love and know that they will eventually - and they tell each other. They also tell each other everything about their sexual relationships, they talk about whom they fancy and how they should make love with them. Sex is always present in the development of the characters, but at another level as normally, i.e. as the most normal thing of the world, basically.
The main reason why that strange movie works is that the characters are very interesting. They are grotesque, alright, but something makes them real. The point is, that the characters in this movie are allowed to dream and even to be really mad. However, there are frontiers to their freedom, it's just not the same frontiers as we know. They make the frontiers themselves. Their frontiers allow the siblings to make love - on ONE single looong afternoon. And that scene is not as disturbing as it is kind of beautiful and touching, because THESE characters CAN do this! It's the *radicals* in Vienna who bring us back to the real world - still in a grotesque way. Well, and there are sooo many important characters in this movie - that makes it!
The actors are fabulous. Jodie Foster can never be bad, Rob Lowe is believeable and Amanda Plummer is as good as always. A real stand-out is young Jennie Dundas. About twelve or how old she was then, she looks so adult in terms. She does not have to hide opposite stars of Jodie Foster's kind here, she is really great. What she does is make a quite unreal character come to life - quietly but impressive and likeable. Well, it's no normal movie and there should not be many more of its kind. But, though confusing and gross, there are so many things that you must see. The characters, the actors, the freedom to be mad. Almost as good as "Garp"; there may be worse movies that I rated 8 out of 10.
This is a story about life and the many facets of love, dreams and
aspirations, and the journey of discovery we all have to make in our own way
in our own time. But the single thread that runs through the film and ties
the characters and their lives together is sorrow; and in this instance,
using an extremely overt metaphor, `Sorrow' is the family pet-- a dog-- who
comes to symbolize a seemingly prevalent condition of the Berry family in
`The Hotel New Hampshire,' written for the screen and directed by Tony
Richardson, adapted from the novel by John Irving. The story centers on the
Berry family, a close but eccentric clan, and is told from the perspective
of John (Rob Lowe), who tries to make sense of his too familiar relationship
with his sister, Frannie (Jodie Foster), his gay older brother, Frank (Paul
McCrane), his literally `little' sister, Lilly (Jennifer Dundas) who `isn't
a midget,' but who stopped growing too soon, the youngest of the bunch, Egg
(Seth Green), his grandfather, Iowa Bob (Wilford Brimley) and his parents
(Beau Bridges and Lisa Banes).
John's father, Win, was a dreamer, or as Lilly called him, a `Gatsby,' always looking for something better, for `it.' Win and Mother Berry had met one summer working together at a hotel, and when Win tires of his job as a school teacher, he decides their town needs a hotel. So he buys an abandoned building that suits his needs perfectly, and transforms it into a hotel, the Hotel New Hampshire, owned and operated by the entire Berry family. And it is here that the memories of his formative years are made for John; memories like struggling with his love for his sister while she lives through a particularly traumatic experience that involves a boy of whom she is enamored, Chip Dove (Matthew Modine), and tasting love himself for the first time with a waitress at the hotel (Joely Richardson). It is also at this time that he experiences a death in the family for the first time. And, as it is in life, it won't be the last; nor will it be his final encounter with tragedy and sorrow.
In this film, Richardson touches upon a number of themes that at one time (and not that long ago) would have been considered taboo in a film: Homosexuality, incest and interracial relationships. And he does it successfully by weaving them into the story naturally and objectively, without expounding upon or exploring them simply to enhance the drama. This is simply the story of the Berry family, for better or worse, with John telling it like it is while refraining from any sensationalism or judgment calls, to which the likes of a film of this nature would ordinarily be disposed.
Lowe gives a convincing performance as John-- arguably some of the best work he's ever done-- and he underscores his role of narrator by making the story as much about the others as about himself, which is generous, and a good piece of acting. Foster, who would've been twenty-one or twenty-two when this was filmed (1984), displays an insight, poise and maturity well beyond her years, with a performance that is intuitively discerning and believable, and which serves the character so well while bringing her vividly to life. There is such a natural quality to Foster's acting that it makes her a joy to watch, and it makes Frannie a memorable character. The young Dundas is also very impressive in the role of Lilly and, like Foster, manages to bring the necessary maturity to the character that makes her entirely credible.
The supporting cast includes Wallace Shawn (Freud), Dorsey Wright (Junior), Cali Timmins (Bitty), Anita Morris (Ronda Ray) and Walter Massey (Texan). The film is by turns poignant, funny and disturbing; one could say a succinct reflection of life. And, diverse as this story is, thematically, there will undoubtedly be one aspect of it or another to which just about anyone will be able to relate. Because that's what life is; a journey we all share, but which we take on different roads that sooner or later are bound to intersect, and which becomes the point at which we realize something that's inescapable and possibly the most important thing we will ever learn: That we are not alone in this. And, in the final analysis, that is what `The Hotel New Hampshire' is all about. And that's the magic of the movies. I rate this one 7/10.
I can't believe no one ever bothered writing about this wonderful film.
Though it is in many way American most cast and the author of the book on
which the book is based are American but this is one of the least American
films I know. It is so European the director, the locale that is half the
time Europe and the very daring subject matters simply make this a real
gem. It is a story of a family with the oddest characters and the most
horrible disasters. And yet they persevere. `Keep Passing the Open
Windows" the motto that represents both danger of suicide and hope.
It is funny, sad, emotional and insightful. The course of events may be too quick for some, but as in life it's so very unexpected.
I love `The World According to Garp' as well, as movie and book and these two share a lot in common. And how can anyone resist watching a film with such a wonderful cast Rob Lowe, Jodie Foster, Paul McCrane, Beau Bridges, Wallace Shawn, Matthew Modine, Wilford Brimley, Nastassja Kinski and Amanda Plummer And Rob Lowe and Jodie Foster never looked cuter. The story spans many years and places, and would touch on subject matters such as raising children, music, incest, homosexuality, communism, psychology, terrorism, writing, racism, hotel management and the recurring subjects with John Irving at least in what I read airplanes and bears (see Garp again for these too).
A film that leaves you with a feeling of hope and a wish that you also knew these wonderful people. Don't miss it.
Movie adaptations of John Irving novels are all bound to be weird and
esoteric. The one exception is "The Cider House Rules", which was rewritten
for the screen by Irving himself. But "The Cider House Rules" is also the
most toned-down of Irving's novels. From such works of grandiose fiction and
fantastic imagination as "A Prayer for Owen Meany" and "The World According
to Garp", it stands out.
"Hotel New Hampshire" is even more difficult, and as such it is a difficult novel to adapt to the screen. But I think the director has managed to do a very fine job indeed. "Hotel New Hampshire" is very faithful to Irving's original story, and has the same way of "floating above" the hardships and adventures of the family. The characters are seemingly simple but reveal deep traits of complexity in their words and actions, especially the youngest daughter Lilly and the rough Frannie, both portrayed excellently by Jennifer Dundas and Jodie Foster respectively. The father, obsessed with running a hotel, seems to lead this family on their journey, but there are greater forces at work: disasters, death, political fanaticism, incest and sex. Love and compassion also play important roles, most of all the love between Frannie and John (the narrator) and the friendship between Win Berry and Freud (and Freud's bear!).
The macabre humor is very typical of John Irving, who is a master at writing the deepest tragedy and still make you smile, but the humor serves a greater purpose: ridicule is a way to express outrage and frustration - and "Hotel New Hampshire" has its share of that: the rape of the ambivalent Frannie, the death of the poor old dog and the insanely funny way it refuses to release its hold on the family, the ridiculous radicals in Vienna and the tragic loss of family members. This film focuses on the humor more than the book does, but the seriousness seeps through in the right places. Excellent performances, great scenery and attention to detail added to humor and wit makes this film a very good adaptation of Irving's fascinating novel. Good work.
As far as book/movie adaptations go, this one is by far better than Cider House and Garp. It follows the book wonderfully, with exception to minor details. I'm not saying it's a better MOVIE than Garp or cider house, but it is much truer to the book, and that's always been important to me. I'm one of those people who says "WHAT? THAT'S NOT HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE BOOK!" I once read a post where a girl said everyone involved in this movie should be ashamed of it. She obviously missed the point. The ending, which is so powerful in the book, is equally powerful in the movie. The one improvement, I thought, was the Susie the Bear character. I didn't care for her much after I read the book, but when I saw the movie I was like "yeah!". Incest, plane crashes, blind men named Frued, a bomb at the opera - and a woman in a bear costume. What more could you ask for?
I was disappointed in this movie for many reasons. Minute details of the book were crammed into the movie, which would make the movie very hard to follow if the viewer did not read the book. A lot of Irving's books have strange sexual themes, which sometimes do not translate to the big screen, and "Hotel New Hampshire" is one of those books. While it is one of Irving's best books, and gives a lot of history for each character, the movie left the characters shallow and undeveloped. Too bad, because a wonderful acting job by Jodie Foster was wasted on a phrenetic, nonsensical movie. Rob Lowe's performance (or lack thereof) really hurts the movie, but the adaptation of Irving's novel to the big screen (unlike Cider House Rules) left much to be desired.
This is a perfect example of why good, literary novels shouldn't
be made into films. I read this book (along with his other
best-sellers "World According to Garp" and "Cider House Rules")
back in the 80's when they were published, and I thought they were
great, serious works of fiction full of colorful, off-the wall
characters fleshed out in engaging prose. Unfortunately, all of
this is lost in this film adaptation.
I don't know who Tony Richardson is, and if he directed any other movies, but if they are as poorly-lit, badly-recorded, ineptly edited, and haphazardly narrated as this one is, I'll pass.
Although the movie sticks pretty closely to the original, it just doesn't work on the screen. The first third of the book, dealing with the first Hotel New Hampshire, is truncated into a five minute, voiced-over series of vignettes under the opening credits. This is all of the movie you need to see, because the director uses his entire bag of tricks here.
We seem to enter in the middle of a story, one everyone (except you) seems to already be familiar with. Random characters and situations are thrown at you, with no apparent continuity, sense, or narrative flow. When the story gets dark or uncomfortable, the director resorts to cheap gimmicks like fast-action photography. It may have been funny when the Keystone Kops did it, but it is most definitely UNfunny here.
Wallace Shawn, sporting a bad wig, motorcycle jacket and towing a performing bear, shows up and just as suddenly, disappears. (We do encounter him later in the film, but now he's bald and blind, and although he's back in his native Vienna, his German accent seems to come and go mysteriously. It's also 10 or 15 years later, apparently but somehow he's the only one who is any older.) Rob Lowe looks pretty and vapid. Jodie Foster looks sexy, talks dirty, and acts tough. Beau Bridges just looks befuddled most of the time. And the actress (whoever she is ) who plays the mother has such a tiny part that she barely registers.
Incest, rape, murder, accidental death, suicide, radical German nihilists with bombs, pornography, and a lesbian in a bear suit are all in this movie, and it's all BORING.
All I can recommend is that you read the book. Everything that is confusing, depressing, and just plain weird in this movie makes great, if quirky, sense in the book.
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