Though not entirely faithful to John Irving's best-selling novel, the screen version of The World According to Garp (1982) still captured Irving's entertaining mix of absurd humor, social satire, and sincere melodrama. Under the assured direction of George Roy Hill, Steve Tesich's screenplay follows the highs and lows of aspiring writer T.S. Garp and the eccentrics that populate his world, including his nurse-turned-feminist icon mother Jenny, his academic wife Helen, and his transsexual ex-football star friend Roberta. At once an indictment of social strictures, activist excesses, and foolish philandering, and a celebration of personal expression, alternative lifestyles, and close-knit families, Garp's handsomely shot odyssey manages to be hilarious, uplifting, and tragic without becoming overly mired in its message. In only his second starring role, Robin Williams proved an adept dramatic actor and low-key comic presence as Garp, while John Lithgow's Roberta is more than just a transvestite gag; film newcomer Glenn Close garnered kudos for her no-nonsense Jenny. Though The World According to Garp was not a blockbuster, Close and Lithgow garnered supporting actress and actor Oscar nominations, and Williams went on to movie stardom.
by Lucia Bozzola review