What's Eating Gilbert Grape? Movie Poster Image

What's Eating Gilbert Grape?



A challenging look at the ups and downs of family.
Popular with kids
  • Review Date: October 31, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1993
  • Running Time: 118 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A main character engages in an affair with a married character, there are some difficult scenes of overweight and mentally challenged characters being teased.


Some slapping and shouting scenes involving a boy with autism.


Female/male romance, some kissing, some suggestion of oral sex.


A few bad words, said quietly but with a lot of anger.


Some fictionalized food vendors play a part in plot.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some beer drinking on screen, some smoking. There is a suggestion that a character uses food as a way of turning away from reality.

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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1993
DVD release date:July 27, 1994
Cast:Johnny Depp, Juliette Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio
Director:Lasse Hallstrom
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:118 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:mature themes, language.

This review of What's Eating Gilbert Grape? was written by

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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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Kid, 12 years old March 19, 2010

A perfect film.

This film is absolutely incredible. There are no words to describe how true and beautiful this film is! It has amazing performances from Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis and Mary Steenburgen!! The whole thing is just an amazingly heartwarming and joyful experience. The rolemodels are all pretty good except an autistic boy is slapped, there is some teasing and a man has an affair with an older married woman. Mature 13 year olds :)
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 14 years old Written byshadowexile6 March 10, 2009


Ok let me start of by saying that i am twelve and i just clicked the wrong button. I loved this movie personally, i thought it had a good plot, great acting, and it really just all together was great. It is not for younger kids merely because there is some inappropriate stuff in it such as Gilbert has an affair with a married woman and they do "it" but it is quite suttle and is not anythign big to worry about. After it was over i cried at the end.
Teen, 13 years old Written byYes.Dear April 9, 2008


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