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World According to Garp

A movie directed by George Roy Hill

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Oh what a tangled web we weave ........

  • May 10, 2000
Pros: Robin Williams is fantastic

Cons: none

Jenny Fields is a nurse, unmarried and wanting a child. She manages to obtain this goal and gives birth to the wonderful T.S. Garp. Garp and mom live at a prep school where Jenny is the school nurse and Garp the school sex addict. He also has an undying love of the written word (a love he received naturally from his mother) and dreams of writing the great American novel. His mother, also an aspiring writer, finally finishes her first novel as Garp leaves for college, an autobiography titled ‘A Sexual Suspect'.

Jenny's success brings her to the attention of a group of feminists and inspires a movement - the Ellen Jamesians. In a sick turn of events, these women have had their tongues removed in honor of the rape victim in Jenny's book, whose tormentors removed her tongue to prevent her from revealing who they were.

Jenny has opened a ‘home' for people that are just a little on the edge, like the Jamesians, and welcomes these ladies to live there. Joining these ladies is Roberta Muldoon, former pro football player, now transsexual, with a heart of gold. In all, quite a strange cast of characters.

Garp has gone on to become a successful writer, married to his college sweetheart Helen, now a professor. They raise two boys and have what appears to be a perfect life. Of course, life being what it is, there are no perfect ones. Just a little bored with each other, they both begin affairs - Garp with the 18 year old babysitter, Helen with one of her students. Men being men, Garp tells Helen she must end her affair (guess his was OK, huh?) And she agrees to meet with him one more time to cut it off (oops - pardon that pun).

It seems that Garp and the boys have a favorite activity - driving with no lights on and when they get within a block of their home, they turn the engine off and coast into the driveway seeing if they can make it all the way without the car stalling. Unfortunately it is raining and dark and doubly unfortunately, the driveway happens to be the place that Helen has decided to say goodbye to her lover. Garp coasts into the driveway, crashing into the boyfriends car, boyfriend is given the a le' Bobbitt treatment (sorry guys), the older boy is killed, the younger boy loses an eye, and Garp ends up in traction with a broken jaw wired shut.

Garp and his family go to Jenny's home to affect recovery but Garp closes himself off from Helen entirely. Turning to Roberta for solace, Garp is given a new lease on life as Roberta forces him to reopen his heart and mind and accept Helen back into his life.

Later, Jenny is assassinated at a rally for Jamesians and other feminists movers and shakers and Garp's world is once again shaken to its' core. He goes on to become wrestling coach at his former school until one day his former nemeses Pooh enters the school and shoots him. He lives by the way and the final scene shows him flying off with his true love Helen hopefully to a better life.

A heavy and impressive performance by Williams, taking you by surprise. Often considered only a comedienne it is always pleasant to see him show his true talent in such a vehicle as this one. Close gave a delightful and hard hitting performance as Garp's mother, but then you expect nothing but excellence from Close. The major surprise, aside from some very believable and non-oppressive children actors, is the zany and heart warming performance by John Lithgow. Ya just want to give him a big hug. A hard hitting movie well worth viewing.


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Susi Dawson ()
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About this movie


George Roy Hill's intermittently faithful adaptation of John Irving's best-selling novel lightens the tone of the book's black comedy while retaining at least part of its effect. It stars Robin Williams as T.S. Garp--the fatherless son of well-known eccentric feminist activist Jenny Fields (Glenn Close) who spends much of his life trying to escape the influence of his unusual upbringing and the ever-expanding shadow of his mother's fame. Intent on becoming a writer, living a normal life, and raising a family, Garp marries college sweetheart Helen Holm (Mary Beth Hurt) and starts a family, but he is plagued by the feeling he must wage war against all that is violent in the world that can possibly bring harm to them. When he finally publishes his first book, his mother simultaneously publishes a feminist manifesto that makes her a lightning rod for all manner of victimized women. Among her followers is the transsexual ex-football player Roberta Muldoon (John Lithgow), a model of sanity, who becomes a frien...
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Director: George Roy Hill
Release Date: 1982
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: Warner Home Video (April 03, 2001)
Runtime: 2hr 16min
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