What is your fascination with my forbidden closet of mysteries? -Chief Wiggum
When I was 9, I remember seeing the trailer for The World According to Garp, thinking it looked awesome.
I was a huge fan of Robin Williams due to Mork & Mindy, which was in its third season when the movie premiered. In addition to the fun and wacky antics the trailer showed, I was especially intrigued because it was rated R – apparently for something involving sex. I really wanted to see this movie. Of course, there was no way my parents would let me watch it.
Tonight, 26 years later, I finally watched it. I’m sure I had many opportunities to do so in between, but something kept me from it. I think I knew it couldn’t live up to the hype my 9 year old brain had generated. Even though I tried to lower my expectations, I was disappointed. It’s based on a John Irving novel that was a major best seller at the time, and after reading some comments by those who’ve seen/read both (including Ebert’s review), it lost a bit in the translation and didn’t add anything to make up for it. It’s less fun and sexy and more slow and tragic than I could have ever imagined from watching the trailer. Not bad, per se, but not something I’d recommend to anyone who hasn’t read the book.
Not long after being denied Garp, I was shooed out of the room during a bestial orgy scene in The Howling. I remember pouting like crazy. Of course, I was allowed to watch the rest of the film, including a scene where a werewolf, in human form, is shot in the forehead, then reaches into the bullet hole and pulls out some brain whilst spouting the line, “Let me give you a piece of my mind.” Violence? No problem.
Other sexually charged films I was desperately curious about (and which still remain on my yet-to-see list) are Cat People (the 1982 remake) and The Unbearable Lightness of Being (which I’ve begun reading). I distinctly remember passing the latter in the video store again and again, never having the guts to attempt a covert rental. The remarkable thing – other than the early 80’s being a big era for such films – is that these are films many adults wouldn’t fully comprehend (or at least only superficially). I imagine there were a few 9 year olds in 2001 maddeningly curious about Mulholland Drive, a film I’m still not sure I get. Perhaps it’s best that I waited…