What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
November 1, 2022 2:30 PM - Subscribe

Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp) is a small-town young man with a lot of responsibility. Chief among his concerns are his mother (Darlene Cates), who is so overweight that she can't leave the house, and his mentally impaired younger brother, Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio), who has a knack for finding trouble. Settled into a job at a grocery store and an ongoing affair with local woman Betty Carver (Mary Steenburgen), Gilbert finally has his life shaken up by the free-spirited Becky (Juliette Lewis).

Also starring Laura Harrington, Mary Kate Schellhardt, Kevin Tighe, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover.

Directed by Lasse Hallström. Screenplay by Peter Hedges, based on his novel.

90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on HBO Max. JustWatch listing.

Today, I'm going to post a bunch of movies that are probelmatic and/or made by/starring problematic people, but also either: have merit/are acclaimed; won some awards; are very popular; have a certain amount of cultural cachet. I'll be tagging these #problematicmovies.

In this case, the problem is Johnny Depp. Although one could also point out that being 29 years old, the film is several years too old to date Leo DiCaprio.
posted by DirtyOldTown (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Someone IRL just reminded me that this film is also fatphobic and unkind to a fat character. So there is that, too.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:30 PM on November 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

I still have a fair amount of affection for this movie, although I haven't seen it since it was released and probably won't because of all of Depp's bullshit. Depp, maybe for the last time in his career (at least that I'm aware of), is actually acting in it rather than simply doing a shtick, and I was honestly impressed by DiCaprio in this; he apparently went to a home for developmentally-disabled teens to research the part, and I worked in a home like that for several months after college and was reminded of the clients there by his performance. I also don't remember it being fatphobic; my recollection of the plot was that it portrayed the mom as being the victim of fatphobia and was pretty sympathetic toward her, although, as I said, I'm not about to do a rewatch to test that memory.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:27 PM on November 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

The grocery store scene was filmed at the HEB in my college town in TX, and my girlfriends and I tried in vain to catch a glimpse of Depp, but we missed him. If we had only known.

I watched the movie later and remember it being fairly compassionate to the mom but also just fucking depressing.
posted by emjaybee at 7:38 PM on November 1, 2022

I haven't seen it since its initial theatrical run and would be interested to see how that aspect comes across on rewatch.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:27 AM on November 2, 2022

John C. Reilly's obsession with bringing a fast food chain to town always sticks with me.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:13 AM on November 2, 2022

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