What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

Arnie knows a secret. His big brother Gilbert is the greatest person on the planet.

Blu-ray, 1h 58min
Rating: 7.8
Votes: 203934
Languages: English
Country: USA
Director: Lasse Hallström

Plot outline

A young man in a small Midwestern town struggles to care for his mentally-disabled younger brother and morbidly obese mother while attempting to pursue his own happiness.

Personal notes

217

Plots

A young man in a small Midwestern town struggles to care for his mentally-disabled younger brother and morbidly obese mother while attempting to pursue his own happiness. - unknown

What's Eating Gibert Grape is a beautifully shot movie of tenderness, caring and self-awareness that is set amongst the fictional working class one street town Endora. Centred around the Grape family Ellen and Amy and their two brothers Arnie and Gilbert, who, along with their morbidly obese widowed mother Bonnie Grape are striving to survive and coexist with the absence of a father figure, low wage work and seventeen-year-old Arnie's severe mental condition. It is in this awkward and extremely one sided affair that the unfortunate Gilbert has to constantly, while working for the town's slowly dying convenience store, take care of his younger brother Arnie. Gilbert's life, his future, is thwarted he knows this, but it is in this guardian angel that his love and bond for Arnie cannot, and will not, be let go. That is until the free spirit of Becky arrives in town, and with her grandmother are stranded for the week while waiting for parts for their vehicle. This realization unties new feelings, new thoughts and new hope for the put upon Gibert, something new is eating Gilbert Grape. - Cinema_Fan

There isn't much for Gilbert to look forward to in the small, dying town of Endora. The only thing keeping him sane is his mentally-challenged brother, and his physically-challenged mother. Despite the challenges that are posed in this small town, Gilbert had forgotten that he has become challenged himself and, with the help of a marooned world traveler, begins to see the bigger picture. - Mal Fee Zants

Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom's follow-up to the underrated Once Around earned far more attention than its predecessor thanks to the judicious casting of perennial thinking woman's heartthrob Johnny Depp and a certain up-and-coming thespian by the name of Leonardo DiCaprio. A prisoner of his dysfunctional family's broken dreams in tiny Endora, IA, Gilbert (Depp) serves as breadwinner and caretaker for his mother and siblings following his father's suicide and his older brother's defection. Momma (Darlene Cates) is a morbidly obese shut-in who hasn't left the house in seven years; her children include Arnie (DiCaprio), who's about to turn 18 despite a host of negative medical forecasts, and terminally embarrassed Ellen (Mary Kate Schellhardt), who's emerging from an awkward adolescence. When he's not taking care of the difficult but tender Arnie, Gilbert spends his time fixing up the family's tattered farmhouse, working at a failing mom-and-pop grocery store and hanging with local misfits Bobby (Crispin Glover), an overly ambitious junior undertaker, and Tucker (John C. Reilly), a handyman who hankers after a job at the new burger franchise. Into this complicated but essentially unchanging social universe steps Becky (Juliette Lewis), a thoughtful young woman who's been escorting her nomadic grandmother from state to state in a mobile-home caravan. As Becky teaches Gilbert to finally consider his own happiness for a change, she disrupts both his family obligations and his long-running affair with a lonely housewife (Mary Steenburgen).

Gilbert Grape lives in Endora, a place where nothing much happens. The only times the police get something to do is when Gilbert's autistic brother Arnie tries to climb up on the watertower nearby. Taking care of Arnie is mostly Gilbert's task which can be pretty demanding, at least while you are working at the local grocery store. Then one day Becky and her grandmother pass through Endora getting trouble with the car. Gilbert falls in love with Becky, but gets problems when he tries to find time for his own private life. - Lars J. Aas