Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"The World According To Garp" 1982

“World According To Garp”

This is a book that I read about once a year. The movie is really a pretty good adaptation. It takes the bones of the book and forms a sweet movie. Garp is not as nice in the book. As a matter of fact, everyone in the movie is a little nicer. John Irving, the author, tends to write very well rounded characters. No one is all good or all bad. He also wrote “Cider House Rules”, and the movie is also just the barest of interpretations.

Glenn Close is Jenny Fields, a feminist before the term was even coined. She decides she wants a baby and doesn’t want to share her body or her life with a man to have one. So she takes advantage of a dying soldier and gets what she wants. Close is amazing in this role. Plus that fact that she is only four years older than Robin Williams is never an issue. She stands with authority and it is easy to see her as superior.
Jenny Fields: You know, everybody dies. My parents died. Your father died. Everybody dies. I'm going to die too. So will you. The thing is, to have a life before we die. It can be a real adventure having a life.

Robin Williams is very subdued as Garp. He was coming off of “Mork and Mindy” and needed to show his range. He does a good job but is really carried by his supporting cast. He gets to be a little goofy and eccentric.
T. S. Garp: We'll take the house. Honey, the chances of another plane hitting this house are astronomical. It's been pre-disastered. We're going to be safe here."

Mary Beth Hurt is Helen Holm. She falls for Garp but insists that she will only marry a writer. So, Garp becomes a writer. She is a little shrill at times, but effective.
T. S. Garp: Remember, Helen.
Helen Holm: What, my love?
T. S. Garp: Everything.
Helen Holm: Yes, my love.

But my favorite character is Roberta Muldoon, played delightfully be John Lithgow. Roberta used to be a pro football player until her sex change operation. She still has the build of a pro athlete, but not the drive. She becomes Garp’s best friend and confidant. Plus she gets all the really good lines.
Roberta: I mean, I had mine removed surgically under general anesthesia. But to have it bitten off in a Buick...
Jenny Fields: It's lust!

It is a great life story. John Irving likes to follow the Dickens blueprint and show us a character from birth to death.

But on of my very favorite parts is the very sweet opening credits. We have the Beatles song “When I’m Sixty-Four” strumming as a beautiful naked baby is tossed in the air. There are too many great moments in this film to count. It is simply a sweet, tragic and poignant film. It makes me laugh and cry throughout.

The book hits me in a different way. I never imagine the characters in the book as the actors in the movie. They are different enough that it is easy to live in that quirky world according to Garp. At the end of the book it wraps up all the character, big or small and how they leave that world. It is an awesome book as well as a good movie.

Read the book. Watch the movie. You won’t be disappointed.

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