The World According to Garp Reviews
For the first time on Blu-Ray: In this R-rated dramedy based on the John Irving novel, T.S. Garp (Williams) tries to establish himself as a "serious" writer while living a life of adventure in the shadow of his domineering mother Jenny (Glenn Close), who writes a feminist manifesto at an opportune time and finds herself as a magnet for all manner of distressed women.
Trying to break away from the sitcom shtick of Mork & Mindy, Robin Williams succeeds wonderfully as the title character, giving gravitas to an odd bird and foreshadowing the more serious career to come (The Fisher King, Good Will Hunting). Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and The Sting director George Roy Hill, meanwhile, makes the madness serviceable as entertainment. As faithful as possible, this filmic World isn't as approachable as Irving's Cider House Rules but it's never less than absolutely fascinating.
Bottom line: Cider House Ruse
The World According to Garp has a very odd story to it. It has legitimate dramatic themes to it but it is full of strange humour, ranging from sight gags to use of crude language. It is spread out sporadically over the film, but at times it is difficult to be sure whether it is comedy or drama. The World According to Garp is weird because it has a serious story to tell, but it's hard to determine wheteher it is supposed to be a comedy or a life story of someone. The comedy fo the film is seriously dark, and it interferes with the fact that the film seems to be a dramatic one at heart. The tone in the film feels rather inconsistent in this sense which makes the experience somewhat shaky. Some people may find it quirky, but I found it emotionally distant. The film has interesting themes, but it doesn't have much of a story. Because of this, the more faulty elements of the film become more prevalent. The entire feature is an odd one because it is a large story which is told over an extensive running time of 136 minutes, and yet it is not really that involving. The themes in the film are very complex which require a lot of thought, but underneath them is not much of a story. The tale is a prolongued view of the titular T.S. Garp's view on life growing up in his mother's shadow and living through the 1960's and it shows him dealing with many experiences, but the actual development of everything is not there. The story goes in all different directions without ever transitioning betwen them, rather cutting from one scene to another at an inconsistent pace which fails to give viewers the right amount of time to take everything in or adapt to the new situations which is strange considering that the film's pace is actually fairly slow. As a whole, the film just comes up short in story even if the screenplay provides a variety of interesting situations to the tale.
Since the themes were so dramatically complex, I found it hard to laugh at the intended comic elements of the film. It was such an odd feature, and although it had the best intentions and some good ambitions, the story just never really came together. By the end of the entire film, I really had no idea what to say. The feature was so strange that its overall message got confusing, and when I tried to figure out what the film was saying as a whole, I came up blank. George Roy Hill deserves props for trying to bring the spirit into the film and for implementing in a strong visual style which illuminates the colour of all the scenery, but the material itself is just not up to par.
The World According to Garp deals with complex themes such as both female on male rape and transsexuality at a time long before they were topics found so common in contemporary social circles. Despite the story being rather lacking, the themes in the film seem really ahead of their time. The World According to Garp is one of the earliest films to touch upon female-on-male rape. Unlike films from today, it is not played off in a comic sense. The moment where it is refealed proves to be serious and dramatic, and as the character perpetrating the crime is a feminist. The World Accoding to Garp makes an interesting character out of Jenny Fields because she helps empower women during a hard time and offers victims of abuse a house of safety. Yet at the same time, she is both a manipulative mother and a rapist. She serves as a feminist figure who is both positive and negative, taking an interesting look at. The film takes a complex look at the women's rights movement, while also taking a sympathetic look at the transgender community by implementing in the character Roberta Muldoon. She is a very likable one, and she is played off into the film in a very casual manner without being the subject of much taboo or strict comic relief. She is relevant to the story and interesting as a person, and considering that our contemporary society has made a lot of progress in encouraging seeing transsexuality as acceptable, it is great to look back at this film and see that it was making an attempt to do that more than three decades ago. Parts of the film are ahead of its time, even if as a whole it is rather lacking.
I will admit that the performances of the cast do make the film worth seeing.
Robin Williams' leading performance in The World According to Garp is just brilliant. Despite the presence of minor comic elements in the film, Robin Williams never goes back on the dramatic nature of the feature and keeps himself consistent. The World According to Garp features one of his first dramatic performances which actually never goes back on his trademark comic persona at all. He is in tune with the nature of the film perfectly, peforming with the ideal dramatic spirit which makes him seriously intense at some of the most hard hitting moments in the film. Robin Williams is thoroughly impressive in The World According to Garp because he hits a dramatic high which was uncommon of him prior to this film. The World According to Garp is a breakthrough for the great actor, a chance for audiences to see his dramatic talents in top form where his line delivery is brutally firm and his energy is spot on. You can tell that he is invested in the material, and he takes the opportunity very well.
Glenn Close does her part well. Capturing a strong sense of determination in her part, Glenn Close is able to fill the role of Jenny Fields with some strong acting passion. She always maintains a sense of determined professionalism in the role, staying true to her cause and sharing a powerful chemistry with Robin Wiliams. She always takes the material with a strong approach and tackles it with such easy charisma that it lights up the long career of Academy Award nominated performances that would follow. Glenn Close makes a strong presence in The World According to Garp and works alongside Robin Williams incredibly well.
John Lithgow alo makes a great character. While his relevance to the story is not that big, he portrays an important character in the sense that he is playing a transgender woman. She is a thoroughly likable character who is easily accepted by the other characters, and so it is not a challenge for viewers to do the same thing. John Lithgow puts himself out there and performs with such an easy energetic spirit. There is little emphasis on the gender of Roberta Muldoon which is great because her gender is not important, who she is as a person is. And her interactions with T.S. Garp manage to provide some effective moments in the film. John Lithgow is great in The World According to Garp, and for such a different role, it is awesome to see him taking on the part.
So The World According to Garp has some interesting themes and brilliant performances, especially the leading effort of Robin Williams, but it is buried underneath an unfocused and long story which stretches the premise over a long running time full of inconsistent storytelling.