Benny and Joon
What parents need to know
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?
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?