The World According to Garp (1982)




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Movie Info

The 1982 film version of the John Irving novel The World According to Garp attempts to captures the quirky spirit while condensing the Irving original. Robin Williams plays the title character, the son of unmarried, unorthodox feminist Jenny Fields (Glenn Close, in her film debut). Every effort made by Jenny to broaden Garp's outlook on life -- she even arranges for him to spend the night with a hooker (Swoosie Kurtz) -- crams more fears and phobias into his psyche. Aspiring to become a novelist, Garp succeeds in this goal at the same time that his mother publishes her first feminist manifesto. Though successful and happily married to college sweetheart Helen Holm (Mary Beth Hurt), Garp remains envious of his fearless mother, who has taken in the radical "Ellen Jamesians," a group named after a young woman who had her tongue cut out by a rapist. Mutilation, in fact, becomes something of a leitmotif in Garp's life, climaxing (in every sense of the word) in an auto accident brought about by Helen's tryst with Michael Milton (Mark Soper). There is, of course, much more to the story than this: standing out amongst the dozens of offbeat supporting characters is John Lithgow as Roberta Muldoon, a transexual ex-football jock. John Irving appears as a referee during a college wrestling match, while director George Roy Hill plays the pilot whose low-flying plane crashes into Garp's new home. The World According to Garp didn't attract as large an audience as other, more conventional Robin Williams vehicles, though Close and Lithgow would both be nominated for Best Supporting Actor statues.
R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Comedy , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Warner Home Video

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Glenn Close
as Jenny Fields
Mary Beth Hurt
as Helen Holm
John Lithgow
as Roberta Muldoon
Swoosie Kurtz
as Hooker
Hume Cronyn
as Mr. Fields
Jessica Tandy
as Mrs. Fields
James McCall
as Young Garp
Peter Michael Goetz
as John Wolfe
George Ede
as Dean Bodger
Mark Soper
as Michael Milton
Warren Berlinger
as Stew Percy
Susan Browning
as Midge Percy
Brandon Maggart
as Ernie Holm
James M. Call
as Young Garp
Jenny Wright
as Cushie
Jillian Ross
as Young Cushie
Laurie Robyn
as Young Pooh
Vic Magnotta
as 1st Coach
Dominic A. Cecere
as Opposing Coach
John Irving
as Referee
Danny Goldman
as Wrestler
Christopher Farr
as Bosworth
Brett Littman
as Zipper Boy
Brendon Roth
as Infant Garp
Steven Krey
as Baby Sitter
Al Cerullo
as Helicopter
Amanda Plummer
as Ellen James
Bette Henritze
as Candidate
Jean De Baer
as Speaker
Ron Frazier
as Stephen
Isabell Monk
as Woman with Book
John Corcoran
as Man in Tree
Tim Gallin
as Freman
Kate McGregor-Stewart
as Real Estate Lady
George Roy Hill
as Pilot (uncredited)
Sabrina Lee Moore
as Baby Sitter
Matthew Cowles
as Speeding Plumber
Eve Gordon
as Marge
David Fields
as Infant Duncan
Ryan Davis
as Duncan at Age 2
Kaiulani Lee
as Chief Ellen Jamesian
Lori Shelle
as Laurel
Kath Reiter
as Alice
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Critic Reviews for The World According to Garp

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (1)

Robin Williams displays the acting chops that would later win him an Oscar

March 24, 2005
Juicy Cerebellum

Good effort, sometimes nearly great

August 26, 2002
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

True to the spirit of the novel, the film compels us to consider the ambiguities of love, death, sex, and violence that characterize modern life.

Full Review… | May 17, 2001
Spirituality and Practice

seems to waver between almost sitcom-like normality, and bizarre outlandishness

Full Review… | February 27, 2001
Q Network Film Desk

Quote not available.

September 26, 2005

Quote not available.

July 4, 2005

Audience Reviews for The World According to Garp

A very strange and unabashed tale of the eccentric, John Irving's novel of the same name has been adapted into the story of T.S. Garp, a man whose life has never been normal. Raised by a nurse who raped a dying soldier, and works in a boys' dormitory, Garp finds his footing amongst writers, falls in love, and has an entire lifetime of adventures along the way. This film is bigger than life and contains strange incidents that make up Garp's life, including marital stress, death, assassination, heartbreak, and a gaggle of Ellen James' admirers. Supported in his life is his professor wife (Hurt), children, transsexual friend Roberta (Lithgow), mother, and other friends. The story is very strange, and by the end you will think so too, and yet it's also exquisite in its weirdness, its ability to shift and change as it adapts to new characters, new challenges, and new ways of thinking. It's simply a beautiful film that feels like a novel in poetic repose.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

Scattershot cutaway look at John Irving's involving work ain't too bad, but the large source material refuses to be simply condensed into movie form and what suffers is the work's emotive impact. Mom sleeping with a dying guy, potent sure, but given short shrift in the film, and so most of the other climatic moments. Still, a different Williams film, Glenn Close's debut (and she's not too shabby, eh?), and overall interesting viewing.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


Drama, comedy and romance. A wonderful film, full of surprises, showing delicate theme, how: bastard sons, homosexuality, feminism, adultery and infantile sexuality. All this recounted by the protagonist, T.S. Garp. A great black romantic comedy, that commotion your spectator.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

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