Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Finding Neverland) is a teenage boy who lives in the small town of Endora with his family. Unlike many boys his age Gilbert has some serious responsibilities, which have caused him to grow up quickly. Gilbert's father killed himself and his mother (Darlene Cates – appeared in episodes of Touched By An Angel and Picket Fences) is obese so she has not been out of the house in seven years. This means Gilbert has to work at the local grocery store to earn money for the family and take care of the house. His brother Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio -Titanic, Gangs of New York) is mentally handicapped and is turning 18 soon. The whole family is planning a big birthday party for him. Gilbert has to spend much of his time taking care of Arnie and making sure that he does not climb up on the town's water tower again. All these responsibilities plus living in a small town cause Gilbert to feel as if he cannot escape his predestined destiny. Gilbert is having an affair with bored married mother of two, Betty Carver (Mary Steenburgen – Elf, I Am Sam) and is always afraid her husband Ken (Kevin Tighe – Another 48 Hrs., Road House) will catch them. While this is all piling up on him every summer trailers come into town and one of the cars in this caravan breaks down. Becky (Juliette Lewis – Kalifornia, Natural Born Killers) and her grandmother have to stay behind in Endora while they wait for the part for the car. Gilbert finds himself falling for Becky, but the stress of his responsibilities makes it hard for him to find time for him and Becky.
This is a truly unique film about a fairly routine subject. We have seen films about young people growing up in small towns in the U.S. who have adult responsibilities, but Lasse Hallstrom's (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules) film has a fresh look at it. The film is funny and dark all at the same time. It is a 'small' film that allows you to really get to know the characters and by the end you feel as if you live in Endora with them. You are frustrated right along with Gilbert and want him to find more in life. Hallstrom shows the Grape family warts and all but does not paint them into the corner as dysfunctional rather as a family who are going through trying times yet still love one another. The acting in the film is excellent especially by Leonardo DiCaprio. He was nominated for an Oscar for the film and it really should be the one he is known for and not the blockbuster Titanic. DiCaprio really 'acts' in this film. It is very difficult playing a mentally challenged character and not over-acting, but DiCaprio is believable and heart breaking. The other young actors (Lewis and Depp) are the types who choose different, quirky, interesting films and this film definitely falls into those categories. Gilbert Grape is a film about love, family and the frustrations of growing up and makes us care about it and its host of characters.
-The Characters of Gilbert Grape
-The Voice of Gilbert Grape
-Why We Love Gilbert Grape
-Original theatrical trailer
-Previews for Reds, Titanic: Collector's Edition and Failure to Launch