It's just not easy making a film out of a John Irving novel, as The Hotel New Hampshire vividly demonstrates. It's not just that what makes Irving's novels distinctive is his unique voice, tone, and style, all of which are difficult to translate to the screen; it's also that his books tend to have a tremendous amount of incident (and often characters), much more than can easily be boiled down to two hours. As might be expected, Hotel really doesn't work onscreen, despite the best efforts of writer/director Tony Richardson, some of which pay off and some of which seriously miss the mark. The film's biggest failing is probably its inability to find a consistent tone (or to make its many tones mesh together harmoniously), although its disjointed narrative runs a close second. With so much going on in the film, there's not enough time to really explore the characters themselves, although the cast generally manages to fill in the blanks admirably. Rob Lowe is the major exception, giving a performance that is bland and uninvolving. Usually acting opposite Lowe, Jodie Foster has to do double duty and succeeds admirably, but the film's best work comes from Paul McCrane, whose Frank is sensitively rendered.
by Craig Butler review