What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3

Content: -1 1/2

Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp) is the middle child, eldest son, in a family of five children. The Grape family lives in the small town of Endora, Iowa, where "nothing much ever happens" and neighbors know everyone else's business. The Grapes are the town gossip because their father hung himself in the basement years ago and their grossly overweight mother (Darlene Cates) hasn't left the house since. Gilbert is thrust into the role of the "father" and his oldest sister, Amy, takes care of the motherly chores. Gilbert is a clerk at the town's "mom and pop" grocery store, and is also responsible for his mentally disabled brother, Arnie (Leonard DiCapprio). Gilbert becomes overwhelmed with his responsibilities and the demands of his mother. A stranger in town named Becky (Juliette Lewis) changes his outlook and helps him deal with his mother and his father's suicide. Though its main character is played by a teen idol, this rather sad, sweet story about a dysfunctional family will probably appeal more to parents than teenagers.

With limited use of profanities and obscenities, GILBERT GRAPE is a pleasant surprise. In spite of no parental support, the Grape children are incredibly resilient and make responsible, adult choices. Gilbert's commitment to care for his family in spite of difficulties is refreshing. Sadly, however, Gilbert has an affair with a married woman who openly pursues him. While no on-screen sexual intercourse takes place, it is implied. Also, unconventional sex is briefly implied once. When her husband suddenly dies of a heart attack, the widow (Mary Steenbergen) leaves town. Her character serves no purpose other than to tarnish the otherwise wholesome character of Gilbert. Violence is limited to some face slaps and pushing, and the retarded boy endangers himself by climbing a water tower, but does not hurt himself. This PG-13 film could have easily been rated PG if its few obscenities and profanities had been omitted.

Preview Reviewer: Krista Kay Bontrager
Paramount Communications, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, NY, NY 10023-7780

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (4) times - Mild 3; Moderate 1

Obscene Language: Few (4) times (s-word 3; finger gesture 1)

Profanity: Regular - 3 times

Violence: Few times - Mild and Moderate (face slaps; pushing; house burned down; truck almost hits girl; retarded boy endangers himself when he climbs tower)

Sex: Implied few times in adulterous relationship; unconventional sex implied once briefly)

Nudity: Near nudity (woman braless, scantily clothed)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Unmarried couple spends night lying together (no sex or nudity implied)

Drugs: Mother smokes; beer drinking once

Other: None

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Teenagers

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