The World According to Garp (film)
|The World According to Garp|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||George Roy Hill|
|Produced by||George Roy Hill|
|Screenplay by||John Irving
|Based on||The World According to Garp
by John Irving
|Edited by||Stephen A. Rotter|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
The World According to Garp is a 1982 American comedy-drama film directed by George Roy Hill and starring Robin Williams in the title role. It is based on the novel of the same title by John Irving, who co-wrote the script 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 movie adaptation was filmed mostly in the Leewood Estates neighborhood of Eastchester, New York in the spring and summer of 1981. Many scenes were filmed at the town's high school, as well as Rutgers University.
T. S. Garp is the illegitimate son of a feminist mother, Jenny Fields, who 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 (that being the only sound he is capable of uttering) who was severely brain damaged in combat. Unconstrained by convention and driven by practicality and her desire for a child, Jenny is able to rape Garp due to his priapism, thus impregnating herself. She names the resultant child after Garp and raises him on her own.
Garp grows up, becoming interested in wrestling and fiction writing, topics his mother has little interest in. Garp's writing piques the interest of the daughter of the school's wrestling coach, Helen Holm. She is wary of him. Jenny also observes Garp's interest 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 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.
Garp and Helen meet transsexual ex-football player Roberta Muldoon at Jenny's center, and they become close friends. 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 has a confrontation with one of their members.
Garp has a one-time sexual encounter with the family's babysitter while driving her home, and Helen feeling Garp is acting oddly, asks him if he seduced the sitter. He denies it but Helen isn't convinced. Soon after, Helen begins an affair with one of her graduate students. Having learned about Helen's infidelity with her student, Garp gets into a car accident while his children are riding in the back seat. He crashes into Helen's lover's car, parked in their driveway, while Helen is in the car performing fellatio one last time, having told him they are through. During the accident, Helen bites off her lover's penis, Walt is killed, Duncan loses his right eye, and Garp suffers a tongue and jaw injury. Garp, through the aid of his mother, learns to forgive himself and Helen for their fidelity problems. The couple reconcile, and they have a baby daughter named Jenny.
Jenny receives credible death threats, because of both her center and her book. To Garp's dismay, she is dismissive of physical danger, and in fact, decides to endorse a politician who supports her message. Garp learns that the Jamesians have received a letter from Ellen James begging them to stop the practice, but that they have voted to refuse. He then 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 an 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. 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, 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.
- 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
- Warren Berlinger as Stew Percy
- Brandon Maggart as Ernie Holm
- Amanda Plummer as Ellen James
- Jenny Wright as Cushie (Steering School)
Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars out of four, 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."
- "The World According to Garp". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-10-03.
- Ebert, Roger (January 1, 1982). "The World According to Garp". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- Maslin, Janet (July 23, 1982). "The World According to Garp (1982)". New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
- Kael, Pauline (1984). "Neutered". Taking It All In. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. pp. 376–381. ISBN 0-03-069361-6.