What's Eating Gilbert Grape?
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie is more provocative thematically than others starring Depp and DiCaprio. There's bullying, disrespect, emotionally tense family scenes, and humiliation. There are some scary scenes of family fights, mostly with Gilbert's younger brother Arnie who is mentally challenged. References are made to Gilbert's father, who killed himself. Gilbert is involved with a married woman for part of the film, and there are some scenes with sexual content. Alcohol and drug use are at a minimum. The issue of tolerance is a main theme throughout the movie, centering around Arnie and Gilbert's mother, who's overweight. Scenes of townspeople taunting Arnie and Mrs. Grape could be upsetting.
What's the story?
WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE is a strange and touching take on family life. Gilbert (Johnny Depp) lives in a small town in Iowa with his family, including his housebound mother (Darlene Cates) and his mentally challenged brother, Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Gilbert is the only one with a job and has the additional worry of caring for Arnie, who loves to climb the town water tower. When the well-traveled Becky (Juliette Lewis) arrives in town for a short stay, Gilbert starts to dream about leaving his town and his worries, which include an ill-advised affair with a married woman. Throughout the film, Gilbert is torn between his own wishes and his loyalty to his family.
Is it any good?
What's Eating Gilbert Grape is sometimes hard to watch, but well worth it. There are some difficult scenes dealing with hard-hearted outsiders teasing the Grape family, and some scary ones when Gilbert loses his temper with Arnie. But there are also moments of beauty and compassion, and an off-beat sense of humor throughout. A wonderful cast brings the characters to life. Watching this movie will remind viewers of Depp's talent and DiCaprio's range. The film is also a visual treat, with lush sweeps of Iowa farm country serving as a backdrop for the drama.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how Gilbert becomes the breadwinner and caretaker for the family after his father's death. How much sacrifice does family demand? How can individuals meet their own needs when they need to take care of their families? Gilbert's family faces a lot of negative attention from the town, and he struggles to remain loyal. What qualities are worth loving? Is there love in the Grape family?