One of the first “adult” movies I ever watched was “The World According to Garp” during the summer of 1982. Based on the best-selling novel by John Irving, “Garp” was the tale of T.S. Garp, a writer coming to terms with his own talent as a writer in the shadow of a more famous parent and as a man trying to reconcile his own manhood during a tumultuous time of gender politics (his mother being a very famous feminist writer).
This was an important film in my artistic makeup. Like Lina Wertmuller’s “Seven Beauties,” it’s one of those rare films that mix comedy and tragedy in a completely non-cheesy or schmaltzy mix. Even at 12 years of age, the ending left me completely shattered … as it still does today.
This was the first “dramatic” performance Robin Williams was credited with and in my mind, he was completely underrated. There is one part of the film where he degenerates into the Robin Williams-schtick people know and don’t love anymore, but overall, he deserved an Oscar nod for “Garp,” playing the straight man in a world of lunatics, freaks, and “true believers.” John Lithgow and Glenn Close (in their breakout performances) got their Oscar nods and they were richly deserved.
For a major studio film, this is pretty ballsy material and deserved more attention and acclaim than it received at the time. Over 32 years later, the film … and the performances … hold up very damn well. An underrated American classic.