The World According to Garp (film)
|The World According to Garp|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||George Roy Hill|
|Produced by||George Roy Hill|
|Written by||John Irving
Mary Beth Hurt
|Editing by||Stephen A. Rotter|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||136 minutes|
The World According to Garp is 1982 American comedy drama film directed by George Roy Hill, based on the novel of the same title by John Irving, who also wrote the script together with Steve Tesich. For their roles, John Lithgow and Glenn Close were respectively nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the 55th Academy Awards.
The story chronicles the life of T. S. Garp (Robin Williams), the illegitimate son of a feminist mother, Jenny Fields (Glenn Close, in her feature film debut). Jenny wanted a child but not a husband. A nurse during World War II, she encounters a dying ball turret gunner known only as Technical Sergeant Garp who was severely brain damaged in combat. Unconstrained by convention and driven by practicality and her desire for a child, Jenny uses Garp's sexual response to impregnate herself, and names the resultant son after him. Jenny raises young Garp alone.
Garp grows up, becoming interested in wrestling and writing fiction, topics his mother has little interest in. However, his writing piques the interest of the daughter of the school's wrestling coach, Helen Holm (Mary Beth Hurt). She is wary of him, however, because Garp is quite promiscuous at school. Jenny also observes Garp's behavior in this regard and is intellectually curious about it, having little more than clinical interest in sex herself. She offers to procure a prostitute for Garp, and -- after engaging the two of them in conversation on the subject -- decides to write a book on her observations of lust and human sexuality.
Her book is a partial autobiography called A Sexual Suspect, and is an overnight sensation. Jenny becomes a feminist icon. She uses the proceeds from the book to found a center at her home for troubled and abused women and transsexuals. Meanwhile, Garp's first novel is published, which impresses Helen. The two marry and eventually have two children, Duncan and Walt. Garp becomes a devoted parent and successful fiction writer, while Helen becomes a college professor. However, he and his wife both struggle with fidelity.
Having learned about his wife's infidelity with one of her students, Garp gets into a car accident while his children are riding in the back seat of his car. He crashes into his wife's lover's car, parked in their home's driveway; his wife was in the car performing fellatio on her lover. As a result, Walt is killed and Duncan suffers an eye injury. (The man on whom she was performing fellatio had his penis severed as a result of the accident.) This turns into a time of emotional healing when Garp, through the aid of his mother, learns to forgive himself and his wife for their fidelity problems. The couple reconcile, and they have a baby daughter named Jenny after her grandmother.
Garp spends time visiting his mother and the people who live at her center, including transsexual ex-football player Roberta Muldoon (John Lithgow). He also first hears the story of Ellen James, a girl who was gang-raped and then had her tongue cut out so that she could not identify her attackers. Some of the women at Jenny's center are "Ellen Jamesians", women who voluntarily cut out their own tongues as a show of solidarity. Garp is horrified by the practice and learns that the Jamesians have received a letter from Ellen James herself begging them to stop the practice, but that they have voted to refuse.
Because of both her center and her book, Jenny has been receiving credible death threats. To Garp's dismay, she is dismissive of physical danger, and in fact, decides to endorse a politician who supports her message. Garp writes a book about the life of Ellen James. The book is very successful and well-regarded, but is highly critical of the Jamesians. Garp begins receiving death threats of his own from them.
During a political rally, Jenny is shot and killed by a male anti-feminist fanatic. The women of Jenny's center hold a memorial for her, but forbid all men from attending. Garp, dressed as a woman, is secreted into the memorial by Muldoon. However, he is identified by Pooh, a Jamesian he had known when they both were in school. A commotion breaks out, and Garp is in danger of being hurt, until a woman leads him out of the memorial, away from danger, and to a taxi. The woman is Ellen James (Amanda Plummer, in an early cameo role), who thanks Garp for his book about her. The Jamesians are further outraged that Garp attended the memorial.
Garp returns to his old school as the wrestling coach. One day during practice, Pooh enters the gymnasium and shoots him at close range with a pistol. Garp is airlifted away from the school by helicopter with his wife. He flashes back to an earlier time when his mother would toss him into the air. The movie is left open-ended on whether he survives or not.
- Robin Williams as T.S. Garp
- James "J.B." McCall as young Garp
- Mary Beth Hurt as Helen Holm
- Glenn Close as Jenny Fields
- John Lithgow as Roberta Muldoon
- Hume Cronyn as Mr. Fields
- Jessica Tandy as Mrs. Fields
- Swoosie Kurtz as The Hooker
- Peter Michael Goetz as John Wolf
- Mark Soper as Michael Milton
The World According to Garp was generally well-received and currently holds a 'Fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film, by which he was "entertained but unmoved," three stars as a "palatable" interpretation of the novel, considering it "wonderfully well-written" yet "cruel, annoying and smug," and wrote:
I thought the acting was unconventional and absorbing (especially by Williams, by Glenn Close as his mother, and by John Lithgow as a transsexual). I thought the visualization of the events, by director George Roy Hill, was fresh and consistently interesting. But when the movie was over, my immediate response was not at all what it should have been. All I could find to ask myself was: What the hell was that all about?
Janet Maslin of the New York Times wrote that "the movie is a very fair rendering of Mr. Irving's novel, with similar strengths and weaknesses. If the novel was picaresque and precious, so is the film - although the absence of the book's self-congratulatory streak helps the movie achieve a much lighter, more easy-going style."
On the other hand, film critic Pauline Kael wrote, "There's no feeling of truth in either the book or the movie," and that this "generally faithful adaptation, seems no more (and no less) than a castration fantasy."
- "The World According to Garp". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-10-03.
- Ebert, Roger. "The World According to Garp". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- Maslin, Janet (23 July 1982). "Robin Williams Stars In 'Garp' Adaptation". New York Times. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
- Kael, Pauline (1984). "Neutered". Taking It All In. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. pp. 376–381. ISBN 0-03-069361-6.
- The World According to Garp at the Internet Movie Database
- The World According to Garp at Rotten Tomatoes
- The World According to Garp at Box Office Mojo