Benny and Joon

Movie review by
Joly Herman, Common Sense Media
Benny and Joon Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Quirky comedy about oddballs is edgy for a PG movie.
  • PG
  • 1993
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie is about caring: Benny cares for Joon as her brother, but also as her only family member. Sam cares for Joon, first as a housekeeper and then as a boyfriend. Ruthie cares for everyone in her way, giving tapioca and kindness when it's asked for.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though Benny is gruff and sometimes a bully, he sets up his life to care for his mentally ill sister. Joon, in her own right, is a free spirit, whose creative energy is expressed everywhere in their home. Sam has special talents, which Benny admires. All of the characters are somehow damaged, but this makes them all the more real.

Violence

Benny is a protective big brother, who roughs up Sam when he hears that Sam and Joon are having a relationship.

Sex

Some steamy kisses and a scene where Joon and Sam are in bed together: no skin is shown, except for their bare calves sticking out of the covers.

Language

Runs the gamut, from "damn" to "s--t" and one instance of the f-word.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Benny and his friends drink beer when they play poker, though no one is shown being intoxicated. Ruthie offers Benny a beer when they have an awkward moment. Benny later says, "I need a beer."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the subject of caring for a mentally ill family member is the focal point of this movie. Joon seems "normal," as Sam remarks to Benny, but she has tantrums, pyromaniac moments, and breakdowns. But Joon is also an adult, and she has adult feelings, which lead to romance with Sam. Whether this romance is appropriate or not supplies some of the edge to the plot of the movie.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bydvdgirl December 16, 2018

its movies like this that make me feel better.

I suffer from OCD and when you watch a movie like this or As Good As It Gets you feel better knowing your not alone with a mental illness. the characters are... Continue reading
Adult Written byJay C. June 24, 2018
Teen, 14 years old Written byMoviegirl700 November 12, 2019

Movie tackles mental illness-has some strong language, sex

Guys-you have to watch this movie! I have never seen anything like it-I give it two thumbs up! While it's too edgy for younger kids, the age of twelve shou... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byemily_iero August 11, 2014
This movie isn't inappropriate for children under 13, but younger audiences may not understand the story. It's still an entertaining film regardless o... Continue reading

What's the story?

Benny (Aidan Quinn) is a mechanic whose adult life is anchored to his sister Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson), a passionate, talented artist who happens to be mentally ill. As Benny notices that opportunities in his life are slipping away, he begins to contemplate sending Joon to a group home. Enter Sam (Johnny Depp), who comes into their lives via a card game, and shows the siblings that his talents for caring for Joon run deeper than anyone expected. When Joon and Sam begin to fall for each other, Benny is furious, causing the two to take drastic steps in order to be together.

Is it any good?

Johnny Depp earned a Golden Globe nomination for his incredible physical performance in this movie, and viewers will understand why. His takes on old Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton skits are breathtaking, illustrating how gifted Depp is as a comedian. The life-before-Facebook romance provides a hip but unhurried view of romance in the early '90s. And the world that these quirky characters inhabit is not centered on being popular or cool, but rather being true to themselves. Tweens will love seeing Depp play an illiterate oddball before his Jack Sparrow days. Adult Gen-Xers will appreciate the kind of talent and creativity their peers bring to the screen.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the medication Joon relies on to keep her mental illness in check. These days, prescription drugs are advertised on television and in magazines. How does this effect our view of medicine? When is medication truly necessary? When is it abused? 

  • Benny gets very upset when Joon and Sam admit that they have begun an adult relationship. Why is Benny so upset? Did he think that Joon should not be having sex because of her age or because of her mental illness, or because of the fact that she was not married? 

  • Sam is an adult who cannot read. How can that be? How does illiteracy hinder him? How has he compensated?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love quirky characters

Themes & Topics

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