My conservative family (mom and dad) are very interesting to me.
They knew that when they first saw this next film, they were watching excellence, even though a lot of the source material made them feel uncomfortable.
To me, it is truly a masterpiece, and one of the most well written and clever films I’ve seen.
Given that the material is drawn from a John Irving novel would probably make it seem pretty easy to create a masterpiece script, however, “Cider House Rules” was also adapted from a JI novel…and that was a POS…IMO.
This film is not a POS. It is an energetic yet smooth, strange gem, with actors that fit the roles they are given perfectly. I cannot imagine anyone else being portrayed by another actor, even down to James McCall, who had the difficult task of depicting our young protagonist.
Robin Williams is superb as T. S. Garp. Watching him for the first time, I found I was wondering why he had so much restraint. After about five minutes into his performance, I remembered thinking, oh, Robin wants to be an actor in this, not a comedian…man could he deliver when he needed to.
Glenn Close as as Garp’s mother Jenny Fields is so….interesting. She is interesting because she finds EVERYTHING interesting.
She encourages her son in everything that he does, and doesn’t bat an eye when he wants to be a writer. The irony comes when she decides to be a writer and is able to generate a book that outsells all of his combined and then some. The underlying annoyance that Garp holds for his mother’s success as a writer is one of the subtle maneuvers that makes his performance sparkle. He is happy for her and the success she has, while he is annoyed that she can somehow steal his thunder in his profession. She’s a nurse dammit! So real.
John Lithgow as Roberta Muldoon, an ex Philadelphia Eagle tight end, is a performance for the ages. His ability to depict a man that has decided he is a woman, and not make it foolish to the point that we laugh “at” instead of “with” is a feat all its own.
Outside of maybe Walter Brennan, is there a better supporting/character actor out there other than John Lithgow? What can’t he play? He was easily cast against “type” in this role, and he tackled it with ferocious abandon. Show me any other man that is over 6 feet tall in Hollywood that could portray Roberta with such humanity….
Yeah, I thought so.
Talking about him prior to having seen it, you would most likely believe it wouldn’t work on film. I’m here to tell you it not only works, it’s not even a distraction–slightly. He doesn’t overplay it, he doesn’t undersell it–it’s a perfect mix at baseline and it’s a captivating experience when you see it.
Trying to explain the story would not be fair to anyone interested in watching this movie. It is simply the “The World According to Garp” and you need to experience his point of view for the first time fresh.
I will say that George Roy Hill was a genius for deciding to bookend this movie with “When I’m 64” by the Beatles. He had me at “When I get older, losing my hair…”
I plug every movie I write about.
Move this one to the top of the list.