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What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  4 March 1994 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 160,048 users  
Reviews: 283 user | 72 critic

Gilbert has to care for his brother Arnie and his obese mother, which gets in the way when love walks into his life.



(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Laura Harrington ...
Penelope Branning ...
Susan Loughran ...
Robert B. Hedges ...
Mark Jordan ...


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


A story about the love you find...in the last place you look. See more »


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

4 March 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gilbert Grape  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$11,000,000 (estimated)


$9,170,214 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Hallstrom picked Juliette Lewis on the basis of her authentic teenage performance in Cape Fear (1991). Peter Hedges thought she knew Becky's character so well she could have written her better than he did. See more »


When Gilbert and Becky hug goodbye before she leaves, the relative positions of their arms alternates between shots. See more »


Gilbert: Bobby, how's business?
Bobby: Oh, not good... nobody's dying.
See more »


Referenced in Dexter: What's Eating Dexter Morgan? (2013) See more »


Written and Performed by Joseph S. DeBeasi
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Knocked me over!
3 December 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One of the delights of having raised a family and having more time to yourself s that you get to go back and watch all the movies you missed. I am just now getting to explore the actors whose careers have been postponed, in our lives, by Ninja Turtles and Disney. I fell in lust with Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean and he made me a real fan in Finding Neverland. But in Gilbert Grape, he won my heart completely. This man can act with his eyes. The biggest surprise was Leo DiCaprio as Arnie. Amazing, and he was only 19 when the film was released. He gave an amazing portrayal of a boy who goes in and out of his own world. Juliette Lewis was a quiet storm in this film; she gave Gilbert an anchor of solid acceptance when the pain of his life almost got the best of him.

The casting worked perfectly to create family dynamics that were so very real that they did not even seem brandable as dysfunctional. I appreciated that the mother was never portrayed as less intelligent simply because she was overweight. I loved that the kids did everything they could to protect their mother and their disturbed brother from outside influences and hurt feelings. They stuck together until the end which actually became the beginning. A hopeful and joyous film.

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