The Hotel New Hampshire (1984) Poster

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9/10
Why all this negativity?
Tony19 October 2004
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.
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8/10
Excellent movie
cartman_133726 June 2000
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 here.

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.
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8/10
Characters who are allowed to be mad
DomiMMHS7 January 1999
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.
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7/10
One of my all-times favorite films!
eroka18 September 2000
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.
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9/10
anything getting such mixed reviews must be a marvel !!
wobelix17 August 2001
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 !!
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7/10
Life As We Know It
jhclues18 July 2001
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.
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7/10
Colorful and humorous
Rammstein-25 January 2001
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.
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best irving adaptation
melissey11 April 2001
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?
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Read the Book
jimg-920 October 2002
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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3/10
Disappointing movie
Tom Rice5 January 2006
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.
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7/10
regrettable that Natasha Kinski spends most of the film in a bear costume
christopher-underwood11 January 2007
This is deceptively packaged as a caring and sharing, romantic tale of endeavour, and goodness only knows what those snuggling down on a rainy Sunday afternoon would make of it. This is not a very American style film even if we do get American football and cheerleaders at the start. This is far more noticeable for it's scenes of attempted rape, male and female gang rape, bestiality, voyeurism, lesbianism, whatever the word for older woman/younger guy, a bear riding a bicycle and a central relationship running throughout that is an incestuous one between brother and sister AND that is consummated at great length. I am not a fan of either Beau Bridges or Jodie Foster but they perform well enough, it is just regrettable that Natasha Kinski spends most of the film in a bear costume. The film loses some direction in Vienna but it is an enjoyable enough very unusual movie.
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4/10
The World According to Garp it's not
stills-618 September 1999
I watched this movie because I enjoyed "The World According to Garp" a great deal. But I was disappointed with it. Instead of creating a mood and focusing on the story, this movie takes its cues directly from the book, which is a mistake. Irving's books are wacky and intricate - to follow them to the letter would be ludicrous, as it is here. But I know it's possible. "Garp", at least, had a coherent story.

The makers of this film must have thought that stringing together various scenes that appear in the book would be enough to hold a movie together because Irving obviously knows what he's doing, right? Unfortunately, he does, but they don't. I read the book and the movie is pretty faithful to it, but that's the problem.
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8/10
Worth a look
bokonan3 January 2000
Some people might find this a bizarre film but, like the book on which it was based, the "bizarreness" has a point (all families seem somewhat bizarre to those outside the family, though they appear perfectly normal to those within).

The acting is generally good. The story is generally good - the book on which it is based is one of my favourites and is recommended. There are moments of comedy and tragedy, with some difficult subject matter dealt with adeptly by Tony Richardson.

Worth a look.
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Stick to the book, indeed.
Snoopy127 December 2002
I'm watching this movie on Bravo as I type this.

First off, the book was fairly thick, bizarre, and complex, therefore making it hard to convert this genius novel into a movie. As I watch this movie, I wish that they left it alone. Or at least turned it into a good mini-series. There are many plot holes throughout the film. Had I not read the book prior to, I would have had a great difficulty following. I still had a hard time following. And they left huge chunks out...pertinent parts. The acting, however, is good. Rob Lowe is quite pleasing to the eye. And Jodie Foster and Beau Bridges were pretty good too. Oh well.

Maybe I'll reread the book.
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3/10
A textbook example of how not to adapt a novel for the screen
lanewright30 April 2000
Unlike "The World According to Garp," which was translated to the big screen brilliantly, "The Hotel New Hampshire" (which is probably my favorite John Irving novel) is a disaster. The filmmakers are much too faithful to the novel, which causes them to rush through the story in an attempt to get everything in. Consequently, not enough time is given the parts of the story which are essential, and everything of value is lost. A number of good actors are badly served by this film, which could have been so much better than it turned out to be.
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Probably the worst editing in the history of....
trynity727 December 2002
Well, no that is probably hyperbole. I thought this movie was disjointed and difficult to grasp. Whereas Garp was a strange movie, indeed, it at least managed to capture some essence of flow. Hotel New Hampshire was choppy and more like a series of stories than one whole story. The elements that dragged the pieces together, like the Dog Who Would Not Go Away, etc, gave a comical lift to the otherwise tragic and painful story.

On an off note, the ratings for this movie listed its R rating as being caused by Language, Violence, and Nudity. It neglected to mention the rape. For those who have no desire to witness something on those lines, here's your warning should you have not read the book.
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only does part justice to the book
Chrysanthepop6 April 2007
I saw this movie last night, finally. I had read the book earlier but always wondered what the movie would be like. Sadly, though the movie only does part justice to the book (like so many other such adaptations). Rob Lowe, who plays the central character was disappointingly too wooden. His character seems like nothing but a handsome horny boy who is not so smart either. This is an atrocious deviation from the character in the book. Jenny Dundas does well. Natassja Kinski is decent. The rest are adequate with the exception of one actress. Jodie Foster. Really, it is no surprise that she is known as one of the talented actresses in Hollywood. When you watch her, you do not see Foster, you see the character, Franny. She does such a fantastic job that it almost makes up for all the other flaws of this film. The incest angle was weird enough (and out of place) in the book but it was more poorly developed in the movie. I'd recommend this movie if you have nothing else to do. It does have it's funny moments. Though I'd say that you rather read the book then watch this movie, if not for anything, then for Foster's performance.
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6/10
Too much in too little time
achord7 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This story had a very complicated plot and had too many characters. The screenplay should have cut out a substantial number of the characters. Rob Lowe, as John, is passable. Jodie Foster, as Franny, is amazing. My recommendation is to pay attention to the scenes involving Franny, and to ignore nearly everything else.

The Wallace Shawn character should have been cut. The Austrian radicals should have been cut, too. The love affair between Franny and Susie the Bear should have been developed further. Or, perhaps instead of cutting 40% of the story, this should have been made into a 4 hour movie with one intermission. Movie theaters here in the States used to have intermissions.
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1/10
Give me back my 109 minutes!!!
Mr_J17 February 2003
God, I hated this movie! I registed on IMDB just so I could bash it. Man, where do I start? The characters are completely uninteresting, not a one of them did I care about, simply because none of them did anything that made any logical sense. Maybe the book went a little deeper into all of these characters' motivations, but I just saw a bunchy of people inexplicably doing stupid things. What is the deal with the damn bears?! Where the hell did that come from?! Does anyone know? Why would they make such a fuss over bears? Especially the character, Suzie the Bear? What was her deal? She said like three lines, and we are supposed to care about this character? I DIDN'T! Don't get me started on that little girl either; man, i just wanted her to shut up! The whole impression of her not growing might have meant something if the director was able to actually convey the passage of time!!! There was so much pointless melodrama stuffed down your throat, I had to go vomit it up after I finished the movie. This movie sucked! Watch at your own peril!
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3/10
Fatuous example of how not to film a novel...
moonspinner552 January 2006
Author John Irving's "The World According To Garp" made a decent movie not just because the director and the stars were a perfect fit--it was an interesting study of eccentric lives and behavior, and the paths the characters took were worth following. Irving's "The Hotel New Hampshire" is a far less interesting story, with pomp and smarm to spare, concentrating on the sexual ills of an unconventional family running a hotel. Adapted and directed by Tony Richardson, the picture was a real setback for co-star Jodie Foster (she's such a refined presence that it vulgarizes Foster herself to be cast in such an unattractive part). Young Rob Lowe comes off as the star here; he's very easy and pretty as Foster's brother who harbors a crush on sis, but the other actors (Nastassja Kinski, Beau Bridges, Matthew Modine, Paul McCrane, and wizened Jennie Dundas) are absolutely lost. The director's rhythm is woefully off (detectable right from the beginning) and the editing is a mess. The film is just a jumble of moments, full of tedious craziness and racy interludes. Worse, it is uncomfortably foul-mouthed, jaded, pretentious and wincingly unfunny. *1/2 from ****
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1/10
Wow, was this film bad!
johandav11 February 2004
After seeing and loving "The World According To Garp" - maybe the only film I've seen in the last twenty-five years that I thought was better than the book after having read the book first - I was looking forward to seeing "The Hotel New Hampshire", another John Irving book I had enjoyed.

What a disappointment. This film was so bad I left the theater hating the book as well as the movie - a unique experience for me! Once your main casting choices involve Nastassja Kinski as a young lady so ugly that she walks around with a bear's head on so people won't see her, and Rob Lowe as anything, you're on pretty thin ice. It didn't take long for Tony Richardson and everyone else to then break through that ice. Sorrow might float (to paraphrase the movie), but this film sank like a stone.
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4/10
A Tony Richardson misfire.
james higgins23 March 2010
This offbeat and quirky comedy is a bit too pretentious to work. It's an interesting cast, and most try but none of the characters are likable. They are too dysfunctional and bizarre and director Tony Richardson never develops them past the superficial characters they are. It goes on way too long for a film of this type. It's very disjointed and never appeals to the viewer like it should. And even though the humor is dry, I was rarely amused. Richardson's quest to be avant-garde and original misfires and we are left with a cold film with no substance. Rob Lowe is in over his head, Jodie Foster is quite good though, and Paul McCrane and Wilford Brimley do well. The rest of the cast is unremarkable.
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7/10
THE HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE (Tony Richardson, 1984) ***
MARIO GAUCI30 March 2009
At first, writer-director Richardson seems an odd choice here – until one sees the jokey approach in action, redolent of his much earlier TOM JONES (1963); incidentally, despite being an American film, he brought along top exponents of the "British New Wave" such as cinematographer David Watkin and production/costume designer Jocelyn Herbert. Based on a celebrated satirical novel by John Irving (author of THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP [1982] – which I guess I should get to now), it garnered mixed reactions but I found it quite engaging apart from the occasional heavy-handedness; that said, having read the source material for myself, I have to say that the film falls short of extracting its full potential. There is no real plot to speak of, but a plethora of oddball characters – not just the central family (among them Beau Bridges, Jodie Foster and Rob Lowe…not to mention their compulsively farting dog[!]) but also Wallace Shawn as a cycle-riding Dr. Freud with a bear companion, Nastassja Kinski as the latter's 'replacement' after it is killed(!) and Amanda Plummer as a gawky teen dubbed "Miss Carriage". The film touches on some potentially controversial subjects such as incest (Lowe is obsessed with Foster), homosexuality (of both sexes) and rape (Foster falls foul of Lowe's football buddies, led by a young Matthew Modine – who actually plays two roles!). The acting is uniformly good, with Foster and Kinski (despite a limited role) coming off best. Reportedly, the rock band Queen was supposed to contribute to the soundtrack - with the song 'Keep Passing The Open Windows' (a much-repeated phrase in the film) eventually finding its way onto their album "The Works" from the same year.
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4/10
Too faithful
simonbrislin17 February 2005
I absolutely love the book and was looking forward to the film despite (what I considered) some bizarre casting choices.

The overriding problem in this film is that it is too faithful to the book and trying to compress 600 pages into 2 hours is impossible.

All the actors try their best and Rob Lowe does surprisingly well but there's just too much story in too short a time. Any emotion or comedy is drained because everything is rushed through.

The result is an emotionally vacuous, quirky mess. As a reminder of the events in the book it's useful. As a stand alone film I doubt film or John Irving fans will find anything to recommend it.
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7/10
Utterly bizarre, but compellingly so
Frederick J. Frenger9 April 2007
Okay, this was officially an insane film. The dysfunctional families in The Royal Tenenbaums or Little Miss Sunshine have got nothing on this lot.

Rob Lowe and Jodie Foster are a teenage brother and sister who harbor blatant incestuous desires for each other. Jodie gets gang-raped (a test run for The Accused, perhaps) and then falls for the guy who spearheaded her rape. Matthew Modine has a double role as the head rapist and the perverted leader of a radical terrorist gang who want to blow up a Viennese opera house. Nastassja Kinski pops up halfway through as an insecure lesbian in a bear suit, and gets it on with both Rob and Jodie. Amanda Plummer plays a virginal Austrian chambermaid/terrorist known only as Miss Miscarriage. Beau Bridges is the patriarch, a teacher who dreams of setting up a hotel and gets blinded by an exploding bomb. There's also a child authoress (Jennie Dundas), a weightlifting grandfather (Wilford Brimley), a real bear and a dog with "terminal flatulence".

Tony Richardson is obviously going for a type of bizarre, surreal, epic black comedy, and he has faithfully adapted John Irving's sprawling, near-unfilmable 1981 novel. Both the tone and the narrative are faithful, but it's certainly not as successful an adaptation as The World According to Garp two years earlier. The cast is game and there are some rich, funny moments along the way, but there is clearly too much going on, too many characters and wild globe-hopping vignettes, and the overdose of quirk becomes wearisome well before the end. It's an utterly chaotic mess, then, but it remains one of those morbidly fascinating films you can't tear your eyes away from, if only to see what the hell happens next.
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