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After being conceived by a feminist (Glenn Close) who makes sure the father will never interfere, T.S. Garp (Robin Williams) grows up in a New England boy's academy and hopes to be a writer. He weds his college sweetheart Helen (Mary Beth Hurt) and starts a family but can't escape the ever-expanding shadow of his mother's fame. When Garp finally publishes his first book, she publishes a feminist manifesto that earns her cult status among all manner of distressed women. Transsexual ex-football player Roberta Muldoon (John Lithgow) is one such admirer who becomes Garp's friend and leads him towards reconciliation with his mother and her cause.

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
A somewhat faithful adaptation of the best-selling book by John Irving (The Cider House Rules, Simon Birch, Hotel New Hampshire), The World According to Garp is a light dramatic comedy about the fickle absurdity of human nature. It's rambling story captures the spirit of Irving's quirky novel but lightens the tone of its black humour. It's a film where we see the world through the eyes of Garp as he grows up and deals with love, lust, betrayal, ambition, healing, fanaticism and - above of all - a mother who seems to exist to challenge to the majority.

It's observational style of humour is witty without being hysterical, and the dialogue from Steve Tesich is spot on - especially when it's delivered by Glenn Close with her character's razor sharp tongue. As the DVD's Awards section reveals, Close is just one of the then-unkown actors whose career was made when Garp hit the screen in 1982. She delivers an outstanding debut role as the quintessential over-protective mother - a woman who would give any child neuroses for the rest of his or her life. She was even nominated for an Oscar, an award that still somehow eludes her. Garp also made the critics take note of Robin Williams as a dramatic actor. He'd just broken through with the Mork and Mindy television series and his first film role as Popeye. Here he shows us the fragile, less eccentric and more human side of his talents. Williams' Oscar gold would come much later in Good Will Hunting, yet supporting actor John Lithgow would find himself, like Close, nominated in his first big film role here. He's the moral centre and voice of normalcy; not bad for playing a 6-foot transsexual ex-footballer.

The DVD is sorely lacking in extra features. A commentary from the cast would have been wonderful. But the 16:9 enhanced transfer is crisp and clean, and the disc is well priced at about $25. A film about innocence, experience, tragedy and joy, The Word According to Garp proves that the journey of life needs a lot of exploring.

Published February 14, 2002

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CAST: Robin Williams, Glenn Close, Mary Beth Hurt, John Lithgow, Jessica
Tandy, Swoosie Kurtz, Hume Cronyn

DIRECTOR: George Roy Hill

RUNNING TIME: 136 minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES: Theatrical Trailer, Cast / Filmmaker Profiles, Awards

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: February 4, 2002

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