Benny and Joon

 
(i)

 

Quirky comedy about oddballs is edgy for a PG movie.
  • Review Date: July 14, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1993
  • Running Time: 98 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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
Not applicable
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."

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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:January 9, 1993
DVD release date:January 9, 2001
Cast:Aidan Quinn, Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson
Director:Jeremiah S. Chechik
Studio:MGM/UA
Genre:Drama
Topics:Book characters, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:98 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of Benny and Joon was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 17 year old Written byThemaxieriddle March 3, 2011
 
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old October 28, 2012
 

Yay Johnny Depp!

I only have it three stars because Johnny Depp is the star; there is an iffy scene where Joon and Sam are kissing in bed, and then their bare legs stick out of the covers in the next scene, meaning they had sex and that their entire lower bodies are naked.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written bySarah Grace November 26, 2010
 

Could've Been Much Better

Would've really liked this movie, had it not been for the fornication scene. Sam and Joon should have gotten married, sadness:( And the language was too, I don't know, full of mild curses? Plus an f- word :P Not cool....
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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