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What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

PG-13 | | Drama | 4 March 1994 (USA)
After his father's death, Gilbert has to care for his mentally disabled brother, Arnie, and his morbidly obese mother, which is suddenly challenged when love walks into his life.

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(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Ken Carver
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Penelope Branning ...
Becky's Grandma
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Susan Loughran ...
Mrs. Lamson
Robert B. Hedges ...
Minister (as Rev. Robert B. Hedges)
Mark Jordan ...
Todd Carver
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Storyline

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 ... Written by Cinema_Fan

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Life is a terrible thing to sleep through. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for elements of mature subject matter | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

4 March 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gilbert Grape  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$11,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$9,170,214
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Leonardo DiCaprio and John C. Reilly subsequently appeared together in The Aviator (2004). Mary Steenburgen has previously appeared in Melvin and Howard (1980). Both films were about Howard Hughes. See more »

Goofs

When Gilbert is eating watermelon, the first couple of shots show only two seeds. Then when the camera goes back to him once again, there are a lot of seeds, yet this is supposed to be the same piece. See more »

Quotes

Arnie: Gilbert, how many more miles 'til they get here?
Gilbert: Few million, buddy.
Arnie: Three?
Gilbert: Yeah.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mike & Mike: Episode dated 1 February 2016 (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Music from Indiscretion of an American Wife
by Alessandro Cicognini
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Trapped
26 February 2008 | by See all my reviews

Small American towns nurture kindness and big hearts, as personified by Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp), a twenty year old guy who heads a loving but difficult family of two younger sisters, a mentally retarded younger brother named Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio), and their obese momma (Darlene Cates). These are humble, unpretentious common folks who do the best they can. But life in a small town in Iowa is hard, and it can be frustrating and confining. At times, you can feel ... trapped.

The film's theme is explicit. Gilbert is trapped in a vexing family. Arnie is trapped in a body with a flawed brain. Momma is trapped in an obese body. A local woman named Betty (Mary Steenburgen) is trapped in an unsatisfying marriage. A young woman named Becky (Juliette Lewis) is trapped with her grandmother in the town by an RV that has broken down while passing through. Even a grasshopper gets trapped in Arnie's mischievous hands.

Seeing good people trapped in difficult situations is poignant. The film really tugs at your heartstrings. In one sequence, momma must face gawkers as she leaves the courthouse. Her response is inspiring and majestic. Darlene Cates does a wonderful job in this role.

Gilbert and his family live in a modest house. Its interior reminds me of the grim, depressing house in the movie "Silkwood" (1983). The dinner table must be moved each meal to wherever momma is sitting. And typical family conversation centers on preparation for Arnie's birthday party, and debate over ways to cook bacon.

A friend helps Gilbert reinforce the wood floor under Gilbert's house, so that the floor won't collapse under the weight of momma. Gilbert is kind, and has a big heart. And he is very protective of Arnie who has a habit of climbing up the town's water tower.

The townsfolk are satisfied with fulfilling small dreams, like getting a job at the new burger barn, or getting an ice cream snack at the local "Dairy Dreme". Small American towns ... life is familial and loving, but it can also be confining. And this film reminds me a lot of "The Last Picture Show" (1971).

The acting in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" is very good, as is the color cinematography, and production design. I did find the Arnie character to be a bit grating at times. The film's plot is slightly repetitive. And I don't care for the film's title. But these are minor issues.

"What's Eating Gilbert Grape" is a heartfelt story about life in a small American town, with all its kindness, big hearts, and familial love, despite the hardships. The film is worth a serious look, for its thematic depth, for its acting, and for its attention to detail in sets and production design.


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