Benny Pearl (Aidan Quinn) is a mechanic whose life is circumscribed by having to care for his sister Juniper (Joon, Mary Stuart Masterson), an articulate painter with a mental disorder - maybe schizophrenia? - who drives away the housekeepers Benny struggles to find in the small Washington town where they live. Into their home and their lives comes Sam (Johnny Depp), an eccentric and functionally illiterate - maybe dyslexic? - young man who models himself on Buster Keaton and makes iron grilled cheese sandwiches with concentration and style. Benny is attracted to waitress Ruthie (Julianne Moore with a Tenille bob) but worries about what Joon will think; Joon and Sam fall in love but hesitate to tell Benny because Joon is convinced he won't let her have Sam. When Benny does find out about the relationship he's furious and kicks Sam out, but this is a romantic comedy, so love wins out in the end.
The movie is admittedly cutesy, but there's lots to like here. The acting is good, particularly Depp's, whose Keaton routines are spot on, and the supporting cast is strong and includes such now-familiar names as William H. Macy, Oliver Platt, Dan Hedaya, and Moore herself. The lush Pacific Northwest setting is lovely, and the Pearls' many-windowed home sits like a jewel on a quiet neighbourhood corner. One complaint: the soundtrack is dated, a perfect illustration of why featuring pop songs of the day doesn't stand the test of time. All in all, though, this is a pleasant little flick with enough quirk to make it interesting.
Directed by Jeremiah Chechik and released in 1993.