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16 March 2010 @ 11:13 am
The World According to Garp  
Since we recently re-read John Irving's The World According to Garp for our book club, K. and I rented the movie last night. It's the first time I've seen it since I was in my early teens. Back then it was on cable quite often and I remember watching it a lot, though I wonder what I made of it at that age. Being a fan of Robin Williams from "Mork & Mindy, I suspect I was viewing it more as a comedy than a tragedy. Re-watching it now, I actually find the traces of William's comedic styling too out of place in what is essentially a dramatic performance, although he does do well at playing the character from the age of mid-teens through his early 30s.

The story, as you likely know, follows proto-feminist Jenny Fields who decides to have a child with as little help from a man as humanly possible in the mid-1940s. Her child, Garp, grows up wanting to be a novelist, but his attempts at serious writing becomes somewhat overshadowed by his mother's bestselling anti-lust manifesto. Much of the story centers on Garp's struggles to be a good husband and father to his own children.

A lot of the details and depth of the novel obviously got squeezed out in order toget the film down to it's longish 136 minute running time. We lose the long passages of Garp's writing, their trip to Austria, and scenes from the 70s swinging lifestyle, but most of major events in the novel make some sort of appearance in the film. With the novel fresh in my mind, I felt a bit disappointed by the screenplay, but I'm not certain any adaptation would have truly satisfied me.

It was one of the last few films directed by the great George Roy Hill, who made Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, and (one of my personal favorites) A Little Romance. I've yet to see a bad film by him and this one was no exception. Glenn Close and John Lithgow (playing a transsexual ex-football player) both give absolutely first rate performances for which they received much deserved Oscar nominations.

Listening to: The Whigs - "Kiss Me Carolyne"
joelsd on March 16th, 2010 05:06 pm (UTC)
The one thing that truly disappointed me about the movie was that they rushed through the explanation of T.S. Garp's conception. Yes, it was "abhorrent", but it could have been played for comedy OR drama if it were just a couple more minutes longer. His conception and it's explanation are absolutely pivotal to the characters. Glenn Close was phenomenal as Jenny Fields, but she seemed like she was trying to do an impression of the Federal Express fast talker in that scene.
Diary of an Ass Monkeyassmonkeydiary on March 16th, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I did like the Dean trying desperately to get her to stop telling him the story though.